We trespass here on the lakeside
trails, where asters and chickadee lean
from sacred bluffs, nightworkers fish at midday,
and pony-tailed men walk their dogs.
On the sloping lawn, an effigy mound
aims six-hundred feet of thunderbird south,
straight at the lake. In summer, we thought
the mound a mirage of August’s hot
cacophony, but in winter
the body surfaces, tall as a man,
windgusts feathering designs on downed wings.
February shadows the sloping snow
like clouds of the upperworld, anchoring
the earth. A thousand years ago, the Woodland
Natives scraped the bones of kin, flesh fallen
from mortal frames after a spell underground,
and re-interred the remains beside pipes
and pots at a Feast of the Dead.
Inside the brick compound, criminal
psychiatrists ignore the Shades outside,
tending possessed and dispossessed minds
like abandoned rooms in living skulls.
We thought Ed Gein, another Heartland
killer, did time here. Mother-crazed, he unearthed
women or gutted them live, flensed
for trashcans, lampshades, armchairs, a suit,
wearing their skins to inhabit their power
in a web of cells.
That was rumor: Gein carved
totems and handicrafts up in Waupun,
model inmate in a guarded cage.
The Hospital is now a Health Institute,
both names burying the Asylum
harboring harmless aunts gone awry.
September is humming migration.
An unseen deer snaps a stick in the woods
as geese spell out their vanishing.
We lie down in the sun by the lake, tracing
the flyways of living wings
over earth’s delicate, desecrated flesh.