Amy Gerstler. He. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal: April 2012, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 56.doi: https://doi.org/10.14797/mdcj-8-2-56
He wonders why there are no tigers in the Bible.
He thinks someone should consider putting them in.
He can be the very soul of elation. Yet some days
he’s too sad to even button his coat. An impetuous man,
not entirely bound by natural laws, he never gets enough
kissing or figures out what kind of animal he is.
An impoverished doctor or handsome drifter,
when he sees a woman carrying a sick child wrapped
in an old plaid coat into the emergency room
he rushes over to help her. No coward soul is his,
though he is given to copious groaning. He once
wrote a play called Eight People Who are Really
Tired. The audience loved it. When he and his brother
were thirteen and fourteen, respectively, they took LSD
in a tree house their father had built. For seven hours
he watched his cells vibrate wildly in time with cells
in the tree’s trunk and leaves. Now, thirty years later,
he’s never entirely forgotten that feeling.
It’s been raining for days. He seems content
to stand on the covered front porch, under the dripping
eaves, smoking and petting his adoring sheepdog.
Whenever it rains like this, he remembers the one offense
his dad spanked him for when he was a kid.
He knows he deserved it. He sits down on the welcome
mat, taps off his ash, and kisses the dog’s furry head.
She wiggles her hindquarters and licks the knee of his jeans.
In gleaming moments like these, forming and falling
like raindrops, I’d give anything to be one of them,
either that man or his dog. Instead, not knowing
which end is up, or what saints to pray to,
I find myself hopelessly in love with them both.
— Amy Gerstler
Amy Gerstler is a Los Angeles-based writer who has published 11 books of poetry. She is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The New York Times named Dearest Creature, from which “He” is taken, one of the notable books of the year for 2009.