National Poetry Month Day 30: Oliver Baez Bendorf

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WILL AND TESTAMENT

I want to be buried under timber and rock
like Caeneus was. I’ll be immune to weapons,
even once they find original female, soft
in the wrong places, scarred. Leave me in
a woods somewhere quiet, let my ribs
rattle with the woodpecker’s industry.
Let the heavens fade lilac to orange on
the longest night. I’ll leave you candles.
May raccoons walk their spidery prints all
over the dirt, may berries sprout
magic. I leave you my pleasure and joy
for which I worked so hard. I wish you
lusty longing and rapt attention. Though
the twiggy lean-to off the trail is not my
property to transfer, I hope you find it.
           I offer you my bright dumb
hopes for democracy. May your vote always
be counted. Your body was made
to shift shape. Seek to serve. Come visit me where
pines loop, tell me joy you’re having. Tangible form. Isn’t it amazing
the golden needles dropped,
how they leave a pad
on the ground
for your tent? Grove
awaits. Already
abandoned
my body once—  look what happened after.

***

Photograph of Oliver Baez Bendorf courtesy of Oliver Baez Bendorf.


Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of two collections, Advantages of Being Evergreen (CSU Poetry Center 2019), which Gabrielle Calvocoressi called “an essential book for our time and for all time,” and The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State U. 2015), selected by Mark Doty for the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize. He was awarded the 2020 Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award from Publishing Triangle and is a fellow of the CantoMundo Poetry Workshop. His poems can be found in recent and forthcoming issues of American Poetry Review, Poetry, BOMB, and New England Review, and were anthologized in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Oliver was born and raised in Iowa and he is currently an assistant professor of poetry at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. More from this author →