Patriarchy

Gunnar Benediktsson

 

[Table of Contents]
[Editor's Note]
[Masthead]
[Guidelines]
[Resources]

on a dare, he vaulted the four-foot high fence
into the enclosure where the ram breathed

puffs of steam into the fall roundup air like an engine.
twelve, invincible, the first bloom of bicep bursting

like a flower bud on his thin stalks of bone, he charged
towards the ram, who gently lowered its head, as if to submit

when my brother grabbed its horns, one to either hand, pressed
the thick ridges into his fingers, the ram lifted its head

and tossed him easily into a crowd of laughing farm kids.
sometimes the story is different—the ram attacks without warning,

breaks a rib or two maybe, knocks him out for sure
but either way the ram has marked him with a florid gash

from his wrist to the pit of his elbow, a centimeter wide
that stretched as my brother grew but always stayed

the dark color of lingonberries, the syrup-sweet texture
of bad sherry, or the ear of a newly marked lamb, bleeding.

 
 

___

Gunnar Benediktsson was born in Iceland in 1975, but endured some of the world's coldest temperatures in Canada in the late 1980s. His work has appeared in a number literary journals in Canada and the United States, including Grain, The Fiddlehead and the Black Warrior Review. Currently he is a graduate student at the University of Iowa, and lives in Coralville with his wife, two dogs and an ornery cat.