far past the beginning and quite close to the end [2020 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize Featured Finalist]

before revealing the rabbit, after she reaches into you
like the magician into the hat, the will
of touch descending into night, past the stain
-ed mural against the brick, past any tulip or fallen

rose, the lesser pleasures—no, further, she wants 
a grip around the animal, wants the desire inside 
the hand to discover, correctly, the fur
and the porous flesh beneath the fur, and the wet

living beneath the porous flesh. the hare,
once hoping to never be found but still begging
for touch, squeals, almost, as if it were a soldier 
startled into softening and thus remembering,

with ache, that the years spent as a child 
were real. around the ears, the hands tight
without relent despite the squirm, the defense
of muscle, the arm pulling a beast across the barrier

between notreal and real. clenched, the rabbit 
thrashing free, trembling and, seemingly, almost 
smiling. where did we say the heart of man 
lies again? in the chest where any arrow could

reach, or elsewhere, in darker parts, deeper?


Bernard Ferguson is a Bahamian poet and essayist. A winner of the 2019 92y Discovery Contest, his writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere, and anthologized in the Best New Poets anthology series. He is working on a book about Hurricane Dorian and the climate crisis.