Skip to main content

they have grown gills

ISSUE:  Winter 2022


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.  



This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading