Crows could land all at once in a murder
without your footsteps to set them to shaking.
A rabbit could stand underneath the largest
rhododendron in the yard, the one that
refuses to flower. A deer could gnaw the buds
and shoots. A robin could leave his flock
trembling on the bare branches of the swamp wood,
a sedge of herons waiting, their gut-hook heads
motionless. Even a cluster of spiders could suspend
their spin and sway, the hunt off, their clacking
mouths silenced, their prey darting for the shadowed
eaves. A company of moles is sleeping in the earth
with you, their burrowing held, their starred noses
releasing the smallest of day-sunken sighs.

Ruth lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her recent work appears or forthcoming in River Styx, Measure, The Ghazal Page, and Umbrella, which nominated one of her poems for a Pushcart Prize this year. Ruth also serves as Associate Poetry Editor for Cider Press Review. 

I've been semi-obsessed with collective animal names for a while. Some of the lesser-known names feel too facile to me (a crash of rhinos, a flutter of butterflies, a tower of giraffes), but I'm in love with others. A mob of emus? A congregation of alligators? What's not to love? Like many poets, I'm also fairly well obsessed with loss, but I wanted to look, at least a little, at what comes afterwards. I wanted something like consolation, I suppose, and while I'm not sure where exactly the company of moles came from, once I had them, I knew where the consolation was. I think we need to find it where we can. Also, I'm pretty sure there's a good poem waiting in the mob of emus if anyone wants to steal it.



Copyright 2009