Song of the Fish
You should join me here. The cool
green deep of my underwater keep
holds me close. I circle the pier,
waiting for you. If only you’d look,
you’d see me, a silver of reflected light
among the currents of the lake.
I watch you fix your rig,
select the bait to hide the hook.
Your arc is pure from shore to lake
like a dancer in an arabesque.
You are such an artist.
I cannot resist.
I’ve seen this worm before—
my lips are shreds of broken skin;
gills, heart, organs torn;
still, I hunger, lunge, and swallow.
You pull me in;
pain never felt so good.
The gentle way you work the hook,
your hand so warm, so firm
on my naked skin: you hold me,
like a treasure.
It hardly hurts at all.
How could I know
you would slit me open,
eat my flesh,
spit out my bones?
Sometimes a small light makes
the dark more terrible.
Headlights show only the swath
of road yards out; they seem to make
the dark more real, the way less clear.
Shapes crowd-in like hunter-demons,
bearing arms to take us down, take
us back. The car is dumb and warm
and close. Highways hum along under
us, indifferent, but familiar tunes;
our ears fill with the weary whine of tires,
the drone of old stories. Home is the place
where the road ends, where the door beckons,
but for the wanderer, the road goes on
criss-crossing earth’s face in complex
geometries of loneliness.
The night sky burns with stars, dead
a thousand years; the cistern beside
the house, boasts its haul of icy dread,
blackening in the broad-bellied barrel.
Abandoned to an open field, iron beast,
like a scarecrow stripped of human cloth,
angular and alone, bearing no one’s travail,
a skeletal silhouette indifferent to night frost,
stands, grim and unmoved, succumbing to rust,
its steely black stillness a reproach to all
that spreads out from its mute paralysis:
a landscape, sere, naked, without conscience.
In waning night, earth refrains from judgment,
proffers no solace, no absolution, no Truth.
A resident of Raleigh, NC where Cordelia is a practicing artist and writer, she have taught in elementary and high school and been a university professor. A native of Southwest Louisiana, she has lived in Japan and London as well as in the US. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, among which areSouthwest Review, Mainstreet Rag, andThird Wednesday Magazine; anthologies, most recently, The Well-Versed Readerand Heron Clan IV; and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. She was recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press, and The Strand Project presented, this summer. a monologue she wrote for performance. She is also working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.