Ethan J. Cole

Giving my sternum
a crack with a crowbar,
I pried open my chest
as wide as the distance
between intention and action.
What else could I do
but stand there,
holding my arms outstretched
heart in hands, on fire.
Silent, he watched,
and when there was nothing
left but ashes in my grip,
walked away.
Collapsing to the ground,
eyes vacant from the cruelty
of such an oblation ignored
I waited in the dark for nothing.
When Turtle came,
that drummer
between two shells,
and pushed his way
through broken bone
into the wound,
I learned as I watched
this wild generosity
how to close the gap.
Heart thundering,
I kicked old ashes
and strolled away.

When I Was the Grasshopper Child
The small ones were abundant
clinging their fresh green after tiny leaps
to the fresh green of barley or winter wheat
or new shocks of corn—the field’s crop
this year, or to the refugees
of another season, sprung up
where farmer’s field met yard.
They caught easily by me or by robins
who held them, legs kicking futilely
while the John the Baptist bird
kept a pensive pause and swallowed.
The middle sized ones were a harder catch
and so a better hunt for me.
I marveled at the mighty kick
of toothpick hydraulic legs.
Sometimes I was too forceful in my grasp
and a droplet of green-black ichor
bloomed at the mandibles.
I questioned if the mercy was
to release or to execute.
From time to time I’d find one
impaled on hawthorn spine
or the sharp twist of barbed wire,
The cruel shrike, kin to me,
hunts for sport and impales
its quarry, abandoning it to hang—
not even speared for food,
just for the joy of the kill.
The largest ones turn brown in august
and when they leap, their wings
open like clattering fans—
the wheat is gold by now too—
and the hopper, the cutter
that great soldier of God
having survived robin and shrike and boy
devours his just reward.

Ethan J. Cole is originally from western New York State where he developed his love for nature and stories by playing in the woods and talking to himself. He lives in Florida with his two dogs, Amos and Betty Spaghetti.