Jennifer Boyden

The Glacier
Issue One
Fall 2022

Ear Tag

At the weigh-in, the guy with the puncher 
kept trying to jam the tag 
through the ear of the cow. Again. 
The puncher was stuck or dull. The cow groaned 
against her pen. 	          Again.
The kid who tried to calm her
ended up kicking his sister instead.
We all saw that moment, the cow
most of all: how she had been herself,
and then the tag went in, and then
she was made of numbers. Her eyes, the spool
of saliva unraveling across her face
when she tossed her head back again. Again.

She came to my dream 
where dogs were tearing a couch apart.
We threw rocks to beat back the dogs. 
We called 911. We wanted 
to save her. To save just one thing.

In the dream I made my daughter 
stay in the car. Maybe this is about marriage.
Maybe it’s about icebergs
or the memory of my father. Maybe it’s the cow.
Let’s just say there is a big thing. 

My daughter wore her seatbelt 
the whole time with the windows up 
and never once asked what we were doing. 

To Glisten Importantly

My daughter reads me the article 
about how people find themselves
five times better looking 
when they see themselves in the mirror 
than they look in real life. 

She reads me this as I look in the mirror. I try
to see my five-times worse-looking self 
by remembering the last time I had a hangover 
and a migraine. I line the house 
with mirrors and invite all the neighbors over.

In the mirrors of the dining room, people five times 
better looking than we are 
talk and chew and spit gristle at the plates.
I love the way our hands glisten importantly 
with grease, how our hair drifts like melancholy 
through the sauce. This goes on for decades. 

If one of us falls over we can hold a mirror 
to check for gorgeous breath. 

A Poet Shouting Up Through the Graves of Poets Can Hear the Dirt

Checking out a used piano for a friend,
I had no idea what I was supposed to listen for,
if it was any good or not. As the Russian 
played it, he said I should notice how the piano sounded 
like night, if the night
were velvet, said it held the important memories 
of centuries and helped him find his heart.

The problem is not that we have killed all of the poets
and the ones who spoke the truth.
It is that the sheltered heart remains sheltered.

The Bricks Will Be Taken Away and Used Again as Bricks

They shut off the water, so we gathered to sinks

our voices white in the tiled spaces

Then the electricity and so we approached the sockets

with static in our hair, appliances outstretched   When

they took the windows, we pressed ourselves

to the walls, became doors of each other’s passing

Our voices were sewn into quilted sacks, abandoning

the teeth   We gathered to the tongue

and our hands   We gathered   When they take us 

from each other, we will join the mirrors 

where we will come to know how we meet ourselves

JENNIFER BOYDEN is the author of three books of poetry, The Declarable Future and The Mouths of Grazing Things, and (forthcoming) We Can’t Tell If the Constellations Love Us (winner of the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award), and the novel The Chief of Rally Tree. Prior, Jennifer was a PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing Resident, which allows one writer to live and write for one off-grid year in unparalleled solitude in a remote region of the Rogue River in southern Oregon. Jennifer is a high school teacher who lives in Seattle. 

Artwork by David Dodd Lee.
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