“The Carp” published in Tar River Poetry 2015

The Carp

Finally a day of cooler weather arrived.

A deep sky, the wind a dry balm on skin.


In the deep sills of limestone dormers

I worked to clear away clutter, to take


down the things I’d brought, installed –

some books, my knitting, a fan, one lamp –


to throw open the winows, to send the breeze

scudding across my desk, my bed, my clutch


of blue hydrangeas, three lilies, set in a glass

cube vase. Just as I breathed the sweet, light air


mowers in bandanas revved up their gas-fueled

trimmers, that irksome, nasal trill, rasping


against the tree-lined quad, otherwise pastoral.

This is how it is, the way of things, flip-sided.


I hiked down to the lake to seek the breaking

wave, to watch dragonflies mate, to feel serene


in weightless stroking. But then, a carp brushed

along my leg. That scaly touch frightened me,


as if it were a dead man’s limb floating up

from murky depths, and yet too firm, not bloated.


It nipped at me. A turtle? No. It nipped again.

I struck out for shore, fled that which I feared,


that piscine kiss, that lurking foe, kicking,

flailing against its soft and innocent lips.


I’d like to say I sat and dripped under lush pines,

chafing of my foolishness, but soon mosquitoes


chased me back to screened-in comfort,

to the blaring workmen’s shouts and tools. Alas.

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