40 YEARS OF CUTBANK: "Toward the Tall Grass" by Michael Levan













From CutBank 70

Toward the Tall Grass

The woman I love killed a rabbit once, a baby the size of her heart which is the size of a fist, four fingers and a thumb some people curl into hate or, much more often, me knocking on her red, blistered doorframe. But on that chilled spring night, the kind that has always begged me to test if my December breath still existed, the rabbit found a crease in the tent floor, burrowed under the nylon home we had made, together. It slept at her feet, dreamt of morning, a mother’s love regained beneath the dawn fog, all the while its gasps for air swelling as her leg’s weight settled for the night, pushed down, pushed down. Folding the tent the next morning, I found no beating heart, its muscles stiff and fur slick from a small pool that had settled there, too. I nudged the body toward the tall grass, laid some oak leaves over what was—I have never shared loss well—then moved to her. I kissed her hand uneasily. All the way back home, my fist beat for her on the steering wheel, slow and firm, slow and firm.

for Molly


Michael Levan received his MFA in poetry from Western Michigan University and PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. His poems can be found in recent or forthcoming issues of Rock & Sling, Heron Tree, Mid-American Review, Natural Bridge, and American Literary Review. He teaches writing at the University of Saint Francis and lives in Fort Wayne with his wife, Molly, and son, Atticus.