Plumpest Hope
After John Berryman
Diya Chaudhuri

The neighbor's dog rolled about my yard with his belly --
grain-filled, barley-filled, organic free-range chicken-filled -- offered up

like a newborn for baptism. I had just noticed that my nails grow
at disparate, even conflicting rates. I note now that some whittle

to a taper, but most are blunt and broad as a balding head.
I submit they do these things of their own or another's accord.

The dog had yielded himself to afternoon, his paws sculling the air,
lazy on his back as big summer. His hind legs hung easy

and open. I've never put my trust in a breeze like that.
Before the mirror, below three blistering

lightbulbs, with a long and tapered nail, I scrape along my cheekbone.
See, how I give way silently, breaking without causing alarm?

Now, the dog was a clever dog, and so found the clipping pile and knew
it was good. The grass had blanched in two days' sun and hung from him

like mohair. Today, molting hair by the handful in the shower, I pulled
a single length of gray and was surprised. I said "gray," but it was clear.

I had every intention of saving the hair for thoughtful inspection,
but it was washed from me and slithered down the phantasmagoric drain.