for Steven Booker, Carl Baker & Anthony Freeman
the lake becomes a ghost. i decide
to lie down in its place. for comfort,
i polish its bed smooth, quilt a pallet
of bulrushes and cattails together,
tie it to the corners of the shore.
i suffer with the departed waters’ chores.
i have had a lifetime of practice sitting still.
already a perfect liquid circuit,
i am everything wet was except musical.
the fish return to me first.
i banish the bright, curved ascension
of their children and lovers.
the catfish, sacred here, multiply in Lake Me.
the whiskered faithful sing in a one-word language.
water, womb, god, gather, breathe, brother,
hunt and heartbeat are all the same.
fish prayers are easy to answer
and the days pass quiet, so i sleep.
sometimes, i dream of boys. they fall
and flap, breaking open my glassy eye.
they dance down, deep into my belly
where i can’t cry them out. i try
and fill their chests with breathe! god! brother!
i don’t know the words for save or swim.
my catfish wreathe them—suits of clouds.