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.