p o e t r y
between his ribs
and his waist
a lake’s surface
in summer or
liquor made soft
by long, slow sips
I want to consume you
when the sun returns
and we can wear less clothing
I like to watch you sleep laid out, long
inches of scales competing for the sun.
You are calm but still shadow eyes haunt,
turn me cyprinid – please– push us into the
shallows to spawn among the rocks.
I do not know brain, only heart
when my fins near yours.
Do beautiful fish know they’re beautiful?
If I am a not a god then you are the anti-all
but still fluid, and still mine.
Glistening as we come out of the water
firing on three cylinders, leaking gasoline
and fertilizer runoff from the farm up the road
upstream, flowing, swimming.
We have known pollution’s touch.
We are trapped by the fisherman and by us;
for us, water is ground and sky is still sky.
Ribbons of water and sinuous fins
interlace around soft bellies. Always
a means to a means.
There is a smell echoing among the rocks–
rocks clacking like spoons against teeth.
Our brethren are dead up on the shore,
full of black and air and insects
eating only for hunger’s sake.
At five my favorite place
was standing in the lake, looking up
at cliffs with their rocks resting like books
on a shelf. If I had pulled one
down and ran careful fingers
across its spine, it might have
left itself open for me to freely read.
The blue-gray of my favorite skirt
matches the color of a western
river when it rains.
I know this well. You
stand at the top of the stairs, all
right angles to me
and say: you look beautiful.
I say your fluid tongue could
recite recipes and still make them
sound like running water. You say: bring water
to a boil. Add macaroni and stir
until tender. Drain. Add
butter, milk, cheese. Mix gently but well.
Eat ravenously but well.
I laugh, knowing
exactly what you mean.
For two summers I catch
crayfish below basalt canyons and
show them to curious onlookers.
Thigh-high in the water, I say: see
these legs? They are used to swim.
Those ones are used to
reproduce. Those are for feeding.
And the claws, of course, are used to
Rachel Egly is a bi poet, engineer, and ecologist in love with all things water. Her work has previously appeared in Vagabond City, The Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost City Review, and The Fruit Tree, and is forthcoming in Bone & Ink. She currently lives in Chicago with her partner and cat, where she catches crayfish, naps as much as possible, and spends most of her money on good food. You can find her @SPF_6 on Twitter or at rachelegly.wordpress.com.