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Wolf Lake, white gown blown open


White sky, a tinge of blue,
birds like silver crucifixes
children wear at their First Communion—

the lake, melted candelabra—

no wind, no dust of summer moths, no weeping.

Lichen sleeps like fur on a dead thing
and the bones of the trees don't creak
and the woody stems of the cattails hold
the earth steady—

bearded fish are like drunken tangents of thought
that trail so far from the original idea—

for instance

I once fished here, bass after bass,
shined the flashlight down their throats
and saw all the way to the gold ovaries,
gill slits like louvered blinds
letting out light—

meat, heart, memory.

The boat was the green of naiveté,
the oars mismatched,

and who was that girl—a bride—

catching everything
and releasing nothing?

                                      *

Jack in the Pulpit breaks through.
Purple veins comb the spathe, then the spadex
furred-over with male and female blooms
and the cone of firm red berries—

and the trillium's white gown blown open—

and the lapping sound of water,
like a dog compelled to lick itself.

Lake infested with black swans,
beaks breaking the surface tension
of the water

then pulling out, swallowing down
a writhing fish, another,

dissatisfied.

                                      *

There is mist, there is a smudge of moonlight on the water—

lake the color of the groom's Italian leather shoes.

I grind against him on the muddy edge,
open the gold buttons to get to the skin,
the throbbing lip and tongue and cock—

flesh, right now, the wet smear of him
on my palm and lips and inside me,
inside, where I live, right now bitter with him,
dandelion juice, phosphorous,
muck, milk, food—

and beneath us snail shells burst
like the skulls of the dead in the crematorium.

                                      *

There is body, there is experience, there is narrative,
there is idea, memory, philosophy, love—

and there are gods
and there are the operas of the gods—

there is desire
and desire's cold blue-eyed twin—

and this place in-between—water,
weeds bound by tangled fishing line,
bones washed clean,

and ghosts, laced and corseted, dragging
their anchors and sinkers and veils.


Diane Seuss

Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open
University of Massachusetts Press


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