Claire Zoghb’s first collection, Small House Breathing, won the 2008 Quercus Review Poetry Series Annual Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Connecticut Review, CALYX, Crab Creek Review, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America (The Lebanon Issue), and Natural Bridge, among others. Her work has been anthologized in Through A Child’s Eyes: Poems and Stories About War and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems. Twice a Pushcart nominee, Claire was the winner of the 2008 Dogwood annual poetry competition. A graphic artist and book designer, she is Graphics Director at Long Wharf Theatre and contributes graphics to Drunken Boat.
What is left but this: The compulsion to tell.
– Mary Jo Bang, “The Role of Elegy”
She was but a rustling at first —
a crinkle of dried rhododendron leaves
under multiple feet. I rushed to the window
to see, spinning under the blue moon’s light,
an armful of white-and-black-striped cotton candy.
Three baby skunks rolling one another in the grass
while their mother swept enough leaves
to disguise the burrow she’d dug beneath
our sunroom. All business, she then led them
to the lawn in search of grubs.
For weeks I watched the nightly procession, the mother
so sure of herself — even after only two babies followed her.
Yet she got into the rat poison put out by the neighbors.
How many days she suffered, or where her
offspring were, no one knows. She made it back
home, her bloated body wedged in its entrance
pulled by the gentle gloved hands of the wildlife guy.
He photographed her, per state law, before he slid her into
a black plastic bag for disposal. A few spadesful of soil
squirming with maggots into another bag and it was over.
He left her burrow lightly blocked by a standing brick topped
with a cement shard (in case of survivors), looking like
a Neolithic tomb. Yesterday’s turned-up earth pales
in today’s stronger light, growing grayish, stench of rotted
onions already dissipating under a new season’s sun.
And found curled in this morning’s grass — three nests
of white fluffy hairs, holding perfect circles of dew.