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CLARK CHATLAIN

Flathead Lake


In the water you carried
the thousand bodies of the dying shrimp on you
like a new skin.
Your wet hair was a script between your shoulders.
I stood here alone this morning
watching the sunlight on the surface and imagining that
the orchard could have been my being-young.
Here maybe I could complete the act of seeing.
Or I could just finish my cherries,
the hard pits on my tongue,
a stem sticking wryly from my thick lips.
But I havenít learned to enjoy the smell of standing water.
And yesterday I watched the cops harass some guy
beside the interstate. I did nothing.
I stood there as they tossed
a whitewashed moon into the sky and grinned.
They had him. Small fry, they said.
Now, some of the cherries are ripe,
their purple bodies ready to burst into ruin;
already the insects swarm the trees for them.
But your hand on me is good. The water falls from you,
and on the rocks some of the shrimp come back to life
and squirm, burning in the hot sun.
I suck on the pit and wave to the dead faces
below the waterís surface who smiled in my youth.



Clark Chatlain has previously published poetry in Crab Creek Review, Small Spiral Notebook and Stirring: A Literary Collection, among other journals. He currently lives and works in Missoula, Montana. (chatlain@bresnan.net)



Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761