Margaret Reges


The burdening night, the tumbledown heads of dandelion, the inking and purpled clouds, the belly-soft clouds, the clouds moving down, touching the trees,

touching the sides of houses.


The blank and hollow turning shades of stems, the trees a bank of muscle forms, striated tissue, the deep snapped stems of dandelion and milk

clinging to the petals, the grass inward and outward.


The softness of the paw and tufts of fur between the claws, the eye the slip of light in the tree gaps.


There is the thin anchor of light, the body in the grass, the grass circling the body, growing wider, faster, the light at the edges of whiskers, the thinness of whiskers.


The whole self turning with this, with the largeness of clouds, the forms of clouds, the black-blue and sharp clouds against the backs of trees.    


Bracing out, discing, the fuzzed whorl at the end of the field, the field moving out from under itself, the graze of light on the ear, hollowed out into the eye,


the dark and the slow edge of time, katydids, slivers of leaf, the weight of the tongue and the yellowed strands of grass.



// ninth draft

// seventh draft

rabbit drafts mkr-page-007.jpg


// fourth draft







// second draft

rabbit drafts mkr-page-002.jpg

// first draft

Margaret's Notes

This piece began both as a large feeling and as a preoccupation with Wallace Stevens' "A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts." Which some people consider to be a pretty silly poem. I find it large (even though it's physically small) and dark (even though it's kind of cute) and strange (no need to qualify this), which is why I think I keep returning to it. 


Anyway, it was a large feeling shortly before a thunderstorm on a summer evening a few years back. 2011, probably, given the dates on the drafts. A rabbit sighting was involved. I think I began writing the poem early in the summer & put more work into it when I was at a residency a couple months later. And then I set it aside. And then I guess I picked it up again a few months later. I tend to sit on poems for a while. I like to think of them as aging and deteriorating as time goes on. It's like that thing Edvard Munch wrote (apropos his habit of leaving his paintings out in all kinds of weather, so they could fall apart): "A good painting with ten holes is better than ten bad paintings with no holes." (Though I often worry that my work is just a bunch of bad poems full of holes...) 

Now, looking at the whole progression of drafts, I've come to realize that the first draft has an energy and openness that the final draft doesn't. (The importance of keeping early drafts!) It might be that I'll just scrap all the later drafts and work with the original in order to create something more closely in line with (what appears to be) the original impulse. Or maybe I'll just stop kicking a dead rabbit, as it were, and let it be what it is: a flawed attempt to contain/evoke a psychological state.  


Margaret Reges is from Michigan. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her recent honors include the 2012 Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets from the Michigan Quarterly Review and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Vermont Studio Center, and the MacDowell Colony. You can find more of her poems in           B O D YThe Iowa Review, and jubilat. She lives in Iowa City, IA, where she teaches at the University of Iowa. She is pleased to spend her summers working for the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. Find more of her work here.