Follicles rock. Limbs
like a rotted walnut.
The spill storms, transforms her. First, a hermit
(her shell an awning against tugs
brought by the light and the dark, the dark
and the dark). Then, a salvager (re-gathering
her scattered runes: her mind plucked
out of the grief; the so-faint pattern of her heart
bleating, beating; the script-
tures torn, torn, restitched). Fever forces
one foot in front of the other. Again. Again.
Splintered. Rewoven after the storm.
**First published in Relief.
In ceremonial swoosh, the netted
fish loops and loops
and drops, weighted and furious.
His skin, old as history,
gray as memory, airs slightly.
One scale is dry. Beside it one moist
like a pallet, dollops of the same color
in varying states of rest
or unrest, of ever-motion
of a constant thing being
while it knows it is dying.
The odor is riverous, so ancient
it is the same smell, surely
as the few fish that fed thousands.
So pond-inspired, my grandmother
inhaled the same as her head dipped back
in baptism and she emerged magnificent
in the sun in that languid moment,
simply being, while knowing that we one day
bait the hook and the next must be the fish, the food.
Eventually our bones finalize
into salt spirits, minerals, mud, the froth
of rivers that churns like arterial cogs
over the bodies of those who come after us
over spiny fans of fins,
over flickering fish wings.
In the scud and scoff,
the silt sifts and settles
and shifts over fish, between the toes
of swimmers wading as far as they dare.
It thrushes under boats
where fishermen bait and cast and net,
where the ceremony of sun and tide and time
only seems to stop, where the moment
is not a moment, but an ever.
****”By and By” was previously published in poemmemoirstory.