The Lyric Dream Project: Dream 27

Two Rivers

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.

Two rivers

Daniel DeVaughn is the executive editor of the arts journal Cumulus, as well as the co-curator of the The Daily Dive, an online forum for the exchange of literature, music and visual art. He holds an MFA from the University of Oregon, and has received fellowships from Sewanee, the Norman Mailer Writer’s Workshop, and the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. His poems have most recently appeared in The Nashville Review and Fogged Clarity.