Two Poems by Rae Gouirand

Rae Gouirand

Rae Gouirand

Rae Gouirand’s first collection of poetry, Open Winter, was selected by Elaine Equi for the Bellday Prize, won an Independent Publisher Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, the Audre Lorde Award, and the California Book Award for poetry. Her new work has appeared most recently in American Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA, VOLT, The Brooklyner, The Rumpus, FANZINE, The California Journal of Poetics, and in a Distinguished Poet feature for The Inflectionist Review. She is currently at work on her third collection of poems and a work of nonfiction.

Moon in Leo

All I know is the animal came to the house
and stared me down, sat on the floor

and rejected the first I offered, then stood outside
and cried like a dying thing until I talked it back in.

I know I finally touched it.
I know it stirred me as it turned

and that in speaking I said I do not know
what is happening, though I did. 

I know that the sob came out half
like something that’s already gone out

and is merely passing back through itself,
the love of someone who cannot give

or promises first believed, ghost-lived.
I know I felt my own blood clamp

and that those eyes assessed both
in the room. I know it followed us down

from the dark walk through dark, jagged lines
torn of their vines, rusted vertices

counted. I know I counted once
and I know I count present. I do not know

whether that love has taken
her life since

though I understand the pith
biting hard above the fruit

that confirms come morning
I did not float, though I feel untested,

though I am taken again like 
any number of times I was taken

some morning in a place
neither of us lived.


I was begged not to say
as soon as I’d said. 

I said again. 
Something cried outside. 

Not merely detail. 
Fire is literal and it spread 

that way between us 

Vividness which is.
What we wished to possess

like a taste in our mouths
we tried to match,

at least name.
It was horrible how we met:

moon, ocean. Symmetry.
When I was young 

I was surrounded by math, 
music. Everything fit 

some space.
Everything had its field.

I was told over, over
to enter that, to find use.

A translucence stole my attention.
I let it past. I let it present.

Realities need to act,
to live themselves out.

There is nothing I’d want to keep,
nothing I’d abscond with.

I let everything die,
reduced myself to what I meant.