4th Annual Terrain.org Poetry Contest Finalist
This one stunned on the road,
with the biplane wings,
with the Day-Glo
abdomen it arched forward
when I carried it home
on a stick to show others?
This one with outsize
compound eyes, that spits fire
when it passes? Dragonfly, dragonfly.
That simple-winged one
on the shady streambank,
chasing gnats like dark scissors?
That smaller one with the metallic
pipecleaner blue midriff, flashing
into sunrays? Damselfly, damselfly.
These notebooks, these Linnaean
darts by. The ears tell
the eyes. The head pivots.
The fleshy thorax follows,
this minor heart observing
from its slotted cage of ribs.
These silver traces from the sea, silt browning velvet gills, roe bulging otherwise torpedo frames, flashing past mud-happy catfish, past the steel-clench of fish hawks, past the defunct deepwater tobacco landing, driven upstream, white- hot with their need to be. Climbing fish ladders up Conowingo Dam, each wild leap counts. Old-timers would bottom-drop flat nets, wait, then yank, arm over muscled arm, so thick were April shad runs, so many their cast-iron skillets sizzling with buttered, burgundy roe. Out-of-state cars teem at Hill’s Bridge in hope the fish still will. Here where morning mist marks the river a mile off, two men with poles leave their pickup, white plastic bucket swinging empty, a cooler for bloodworms and beer, their gait towards the pier light, sideways banter just begun, something splashing up ahead.