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Davis McCombs


Water Tank Cosmogony

The leaves that sank to its bottom
were not magnified by the trembling
of the liquid, not its stillness, nor
its bevel at the corrugated rim.
A season decanted where a bullfrog
drummed his throat to the black gnats
strafing the watery lens— but how,
across that long drought summer
when we sold the herd, through fields
of parched, uneaten pasture, did he hear
its oval note of rain and aluminum?
I would have turned the valve that night
and let the water flow, a rippling plane,
into the grass, but I just stood there,
frozen like the frog in the beam
of my flashlight, while the deep grass
roar of summer pulsed around us,
and a meteor swam, I swear,
like a tadpole through the glistening dark.


    Our bodies every seven years are completely fresh-
        materialed— seven years ago it was not this hand that clench'd
        itself against Hammond.
                 —John Keats, Letter to George Keatses in Kentucky, 
September 1819
Coyotes are passing swift and scratchless up the mud-dark sloughs
    tonight; incorporeal
they call to us from the sawbriars, discarnate they yelp
    at the moon reflected
on the river’s wrinkling skin.  Daddy flicks a cigarette from the bed
    of the truck, its arc
like our own through the darkening, bodiless air.
    We travel, it seems,
away from the still-lit portion of the field or something like it,
    flutter like moths
toward the shadow the barn casts or, to put it simply, the fencerows
    are blooming again.
A week?  Two?  The honeysuckle bares its dripping fangs
    to the barbed wire.
What is the element that fills the spaces we vacate, that trembles
    like a wall of water
barring the way back?  This scent of boundaries and incursions
    that rises with the warm air
off the river comes, as I do, from a source in the knotted spring.
    I stray
from the tail-lights’ bitter glow to the woodline, through dark,
    it opens
into sun-speckled leaves.  I press my face into the night and toward
    a distant field,
unreachable now, a face in the weeds that was mine, a sturdy little body
    breaking into light.

                             -from Dismal Rock