Forrest Gander


Bridge & Swimmer

Our eye goes past the hieroglyphic tree to the swimmer
carving a wake in the water. And almost to the railroad bridge
from which the swimmer might have dived. Then, as though
come to the end of its tether,
our gaze returns, pulling toward the blemish
on the surface of the print. An L-shaped chemical dribble,
it sabotages the scene’ s transparence
and siphons off its easy appeal.

At the same time, the blemish
joins together the realms
of seer and swimmer
in our experience of plunging
into and out of the image.


I’ ll know the time to leave the room
where I’ ve been growing hair
from my face, drinking dark beers
when the light in the lake bums out.
That’ s when fish
turn on their music.
They lie in a blue current
waiting for the moon
to pass over, and the fishermen
with their lanterns know this
as they spill a can of sweet corn
and wonder if they spoke

The Moment When Your Name is Pronounced

This high up, the face
eroding; the red cedar slopes
over. An accident chooses a stranger.
Each rain unplugs roots
which thin out like a hand.
Above the river, heat
lightning flicks silently
and the sound holds, coiled in air.
Some nights you are here
dangling a Valpolicella bottle,
staring down at the flat water
that slides by with its mouth full of starlight.
It is always quiet