623 Readings | 3 Ratings

The Study of Lakes


We knew California would take it the hardest: losing
          palm trees is never easy. No one spoke

of the redwoods. As a community, we folded
          & unfolded our sweaters, packed night

bags with the last of our peaches. We waited.
          We breathed but thought of it only

when smoking. Eventually, the telephone poles
          couldn’t hold, & we called a desert

a desert again. No one blessed the faucets or prayed
          for hailstones to halve like human eyes,

so the baptism by thistle went unnoticed. It was easier
          that way—to say no one was watching.

The Nalgene bottles went fast & the flasks even
          faster, but by night we rediscovered energy

for attacking prey, for avoiding tattoos & brandings,
          surgical scissors, punches, & ropes. We trellised

mountains in groups, using fish bones for cairns, & when
          dirt stormed over us a second time, we hoped

for locusts. Once, a woman claimed she’d seen trumpet vine
          covered with golden husks in North Dakota.

We waited. But no one blessed her pocket. No one
          prayed for a stranger’s empty shell.
Posted 10/13/11
This poem first appeared in The Dirty Napkin.
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