Daniel DeVaughn, 28
He built a frame of air, in air, and left behind
the chimney-smoke rising to the Southern Cross,
prayer-like, the tide roar breaking down-coast.
The gulls’ cries faded as he sank into sleep,
and in dream, another night, the Cahaba
rose, banners of weed braiding round his body
as he drifted over shoals of flowing glass,
past the chalk diamond and chain-link fences,
behind the school, where the widowed janitor
smoked and buffed the halls to a high shine.
The light seemed heavier, the lilies bowing
along the river-bank, a heron’s wings lazy
as laundry, beating up to an amethyst sky.
The feeling of being awake, under blue sky,
bone-under-muscle-under-skin, the violence
the present is, like a sheet through the eye
of a needle, had followed him here.
He saw his father hit his mother, once,
hard, back-door slamming as summer ended,
and when his fever broke, he was alone,
save the silhouette of sweat, like a shadow slept
beneath him, small and feral. That night
he walked across the bermuda, diamond-dewed,
over the fence, down-slope to the mossed river
scrubbed of speech, clean beyond time, to watch
the pine-tops bite against the buckshot blue-black.
For a very long time, hypnotized by cricket-pulse,
He sat, and imagined walking the river to its end.
Then another river, he thought, nothing more.