• Grendel's Mother

    Roger Reeves

    Fall 2021

    It was not like the woman who had come out of hell,
    Haired and furred in black earth, smelling of fire,
    Her lover, green and brown in the green and brown
    Field, his back a torn limb broken from the tree
    Of her; ripped, the gesture of his uneven walking,
    His refusal to turn to her who called to him,
    Mouthing the ‘Or-, Or- of his name,
    As if she were giving his wading away
    From her through the tall grass a counter
    Offer, argument—Me, turn, turn to me, turn to us,
    And in that leaving gesture of a ripped limb,
    He turned to her, to us, and even the ram
    Who drove his skull into the rocks stopped
    His thinking and watched the woman yanked
    Back down into the earth’s black holler
    And soil, and so was outside of thinking,
    So furious. So furious, I was,
    When my son called to me, called me out
    Of heaven to come to the crag and corner store
    Where it was that he was dying, *Mama,
    I can’t breathe*;

    Roger Reeves is the author of King Me (Copper Canyon 2013) and the forthcoming Best Barbarian (W. W. Norton 2022). He lives in Austin, Texas, where he is an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

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