About the Feature

Photo by Biodiversity Heritage Library

In the end what I know
about earth is what was sold

to me. What I know
about myself is what I

wouldn’t buy. One man
sold eels. They hung

oddly muscular
from the stand’s brow

or just beveled on ice.
It stands to reason

an eel could meet the last
eel catcher on earth and not

know it. Odd pirouette
no more. Dear no more,

would I be better
if I was a dancer or knew

what to do with a violin,
a stone, the barley, the wheat.

What is hard to believe.
What is hard to believe

is what’s found alive
can’t just die, won’t just die

and change. I looked at the eels
and what did it mean

that you cut your hair off
before you died,

that you died and did it
feel lighter and what

is light now.

About the Author

M.A. Cowgill, a graduate of the University of Virginia’s MFA program, has been awarded an Academy of American Poets University Prize, a scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She lives in New Hampshire.