Enkidu at Thingvellir

Hot springs and desert sand have much in common.

The same nakedness exists on encrusted lava,

windblown dunes. Silence is universal speech.


I watch Shamhat wash the dishes, feeling envy

unbecoming a man half urchin, half herder,

slayer of wolves, wiper of silverware.


Two evenings ago she was on her knees

in the snow, the edges of slanting light

from an unshaded window stating the terms.


Her hands shuffled hard above the snow pack.

She said she was putting me together,

like in the early days. Purpose can be found


in questions, not answers. It’s so hard to know

where the animal ends and the human begins.

She talked of wintering in the south of France


but warm weather stirs the blood the way sex

stirs promises, possibilities, angst.

What’s right can only be measured by doubt.


She closes the tap and listens for wolves.

Such a soft reproach embedded in silence:

“You’ve culled all the danger from my life.”


Very late, I wander outside. The sheep become

confused. An obedient instinct says to follow,

but a dim bulb in the cellars of their minds


checks them. Winter sits hard on such moments,

all the blooms beneath the soil waiting to shoot

upward, to be what they have been asked to be.



Joseph Kenyon’s fiction and poetry have appeared most recently in Deep Water Literary Journal, Stoneboat, and The Copperfield Review. He teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia and is a member of the Philadelphia-based 17th Street Writers, whose short story collection, Above Water, is due out this fall.