Today's poem is by G. C. Waldrep

The Fear Was in the Northeast

The fear was in the northeast.
We watched it coming in low
like a jetliner. No, you said,
like a flock of starlings. No,
you said, like a single bird of prey
or like a dark balloon
or like some new form of weather.
No, you said, while the fear
continued to move toward us,
toward where we were.
Where we were was wet
and we could feel the onrushing
of the fear against our cheeks,
which were exposed, against
our bare necks. It made them burn,
the way roses burn. No,
you said. The way barns burn.
The way hydrants burn.
And there was just enough time
for this. And we had a name for it,
a name that made another place
for us, the way photographs do.
We tried to photograph the name.
The drops cold on our faces
like faces. No, you said.
This is the thing we called a face.
And it was not like anything.
And we were inside it.
And the fear passed over us
like an issue of blood, or like smoke.
And the light was different, after.
And we rubbed our tusks
against it. To see the sparks.
And we agreed on this,
that we should call it the body,
rather than, say, the river
And we really wanted to see
it, too. But the face was setting.
And we had burned the photographs.
Lost them. Discarded them.
Defaced them, with acid or soot.
No, you said. Here they are.

Copyright © 2009 G. C. Waldrep All rights reserved
from Quarterly West
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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