THE RIVER REFLECTS NOTHING
This morning I watched a neighborhood
boy throw his model plane into the air
with his right hand and shoot it down
with the garden hose in his left. My
hands were never that quick. When
my mother lived by the river, I lived
by the river. I knelt over it with legs red
and pebble-dented. Reaching in, I pulled
back empty fists and it always seemed
like a trick, those tadpoles all green-glinting
and shadows, but my brother could catch
them, could make the squirming real in his
palm before he swallowed each whole.
We are only remembered as cruel when
what we harm does not die quickly. I
don’t know how long it took the tadpoles,
but I know I was trying to say I’m sorry
when I leaned down, pressed my mouth
against his stomach and said, If you’d
just let me catch you, I’d let you go.
I’VE BEEN TRYING TO FEEL BAD FOR EVERYONE
I’m learning that a miracle isn’t a miracle
without sacrifice, because when the birds
brought manna, we ate the birds. I’m learning
that we forgive those we know the least,
like when my brother had another episode
and stabbed his wife, I said to my new lover,
disorder, genetic, and he never yelled at me
again. Lord, teach me patience, for every fruit
I’ve ever picked has been unripe. Teach trust
that reaches past an opened and unwatched
purse. Lord, I’ve seen painted depictions
of an infant Christ winding toy helicopters.
I know it isn’t always about suffering, so send
us a good flood. Deliver a nectar that will soften
fists and lift these red stains from our door-frames.
When They Find the Ark
Fox News buys exclusive broadcasting rights.
My mother is sobbing, pressing her nails
into my palm, she asks, Is this live, is this live?
When they break their way into the ship, I swear
I can smell a mixture of figs and lupine.
The men don’t need light. The ark is bright-
pulsing. Its floors—hay-dappled and wet-warped.
Its stables are wide and filled with women.
Women whipping around on all fours, their
heads pulled back, their mouths a frothed blur.
Women sleeping straight-backed against
wood beams, women speaking in trilling
chirps. My mother says, This can’t be the ark. Where
are the bones? The men? The men find one
woman alone in her stable, curled beside
an overturned bowl. The men lift her up. They lift
it up. The bowl begins gushing dust and
dust. The women stop moving as it fills
the ark, but the men want to save it, they don’t want
to see it dust-drowned. They throw the bowl
out of the ark just before our TV goes black.
Outside, Lake Michigan is slopping up a thick
gray paste. Outside, the stones are coated.
Inside, my mother replays the moments
before the cameras stopped. As the clouds press
against our roof, she asks, Don’t you think
the ones running look a little like me?
(Preiously published in several printed magazines but appeared online for the first time)
About the Poet
Paige Lewis is the author of the chapbook, Reasons to Wake You, forthcoming with Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere.