Finalist for the 2012 Walrus Poetry Prize

The stoat takes a last stand, and, turning white
ermine as winter’s breath, would rather face its hunters
than soil its fur in a chase, buying purity
with its own death. This cui candor morte redemptus

is the word in the dream made flesh.
Look at the choppy surface on these headwaters.
How should I presume, excited to the moon,
the difference between such raptures?

In Mad Men, every car scene is a wavy ur-dream,
clouds from the recent past that seem
a reminder that I used to take a man
at his word. The feeling hovers, then begs,

finally coming to small death. I will buy
my own purity, wearing a red dress.
They say “rave” is from the French rêve.
Who are the great, mad men? Spell it “small death.”

Consider that the dream, riding the horns
of ornamental dilemmas, feels like mortality.
For and against the grain. Rave, death, rêve, dress,
the spotted stoat’s last stand, the dream the ermine’s last breath.

Nyla Matuk has a new collection, Sumptuary Laws, coming out in May.

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