By Devin Johnston
We gathered in a field southwest of town,
several hundred hauling coolers
and folding chairs along a gravel road
dry in August, two ruts of soft dust
that soaked into our clothes
and rose in plumes behind us.
By noon we could discern their massive coils
emerging from a bale of cloud,
scales scattering crescent dapples
through walnut fronds,
the light polarized, each leaf tip in focus.
As their bodies blotted out the sun,
the forest faded to silverpoint.
A current of cool air
extended from the bottomlands
an intimation of October,
and the bowl of sky deepened
its celestial archaeology.
Their tails, like banners of a vast army,
swept past Orion and his retinue
to sighs and scattered applause,
the faint wail of a child crying.
In half an hour they had passed on
in search of deep waters.
Before our company dispersed,
dust whirling in the wind,
we planned to meet again in seven years
for the next known migration.
Sunlight flashed on windshields
and caught along the riverbank
a cloudy, keeled scale
about the size of a dinner plate,
cool as blanc de Chine
in the heat of the afternoon.
Source: Poetry (May 2019)
More Poems about Living
A spring snow coincides with plum blossoms.
In a month, you will forget, then remember
when nine ravens perched in the elm sway in wind.
I will remember when I brake to a stop,
and a hubcap rolls through the intersection.
An angry man grinds...
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
More Poems about Mythology & Folklore
Fairy Tale with Laryngitis and Resignation Letter
You remember the mermaid makes a deal,
her tongue evicted from her throat,
and moving is a knife-cut with every step.
This is what escape from water means.
Dear Colleagues, you write, for weeks
I’ve been typing this letter in the bright
kingdom of my imagination....
How to Break a Curse
Lemon balm is for forgiveness.
Pull up from the root, steep
in boiling water. Add locusts’ wings,
salt, the dried bones of hummingbirds.
Drink when you feel ready.
Drink even if you do not.
Pepper seeds are for courage.
Sprinkle them on your tongue.
Sprinkle in the doorway...