Thomas James


Dragging the Lake

They are skimming the lake with wooden hooks.
Where the oak throws its handful of shadows
Children are gathering fireflies.
I wait in the deep olive flux
As their cries ricochet out of the dark.
Lights spear the water. I hear the oak speak.

It foists its mouthful of sibilants
On a sky involved with a stillborn moon,
On the stock-still cottages. I lean
Into the dark. On tiny splints,
One trellised rose is folding back
Its shawls. The beacon strikes the lake.

Two Aunts

When I feel the old hunger coming on,
I think of my two great-aunts,
A farmer’ s daughters,
Speaking into the dusk in North Dakota.
I imagine the dark baron
Riding out of their mouths,
Thick-skinned and girded
Against disaster, swathed
In cuirass and chainmail and a curse.
My hunger was theirs
Too long ago. It swims in my blood,
Groping for a foothold.
It is the dark I thrust my tongue against,
The wine and the delicate symphony
That makes my head tick so exquisitely
Tonight. My ladies,