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The Absence of Unnecessary Hurting

By Gretchen Primack

This is the press of the earth. One star hanging
there, honking like a goose. The lake
a smudge of black juice, the hill a draped
pancake. Frogs singing, sharp
and gutty.

Night! Clean air, clear water, five
baby mink in a pile, snoring.
Overwhelm can be dug from sludge
below dock, on either side fruits slung
over branches, glued to their seeds.
Here in the slurry live the things
I consider, here in the hills. What do people
think of? What do they think of me
in my carings?

Ripples lunch on each other, heavenly
Body lights flicker, too cool for moths.
I don't want to hurt things.
The fine brown eye of an animal,
the broad slick leaf of a wing.
I'd like to be gentle here.
I want to be worthy of you, lovely
ground, bury my face in your tired
broken bread.

Added: Monday, July 14, 2014  /  From "Kind" (Post Traumatic Press 2013). Used with permission.
Gretchen Primack
Photo by Deborah Degraffenreid

Gretchen Primack's poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, and other journals. She's the author of two poetry collections, Doris' Red Spaces (Mayapple 2014) and Kind (Post-Traumatic Press 2013). Primack has worked as a union organizer, working women's advocate, and prison educator; she currently coordinates an education program for incarcerated women. Also an advocate for non-human animals, she co-wrote The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Penguin Avery 2012) with Jenny Brown. She lives in Hurley, NY.

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