That night the shore kept our shoes
and we left our boxers hanging from branches,
hid ourselves in the river. It was a test of manhood,
to see how naked we'd become
and not care. Tony, the most beautiful,
was laughing. Through the water
I saw a pale blur and knew what it stood for,
my heart paddling. We slapped each others' backs,
tossed a football, the moon showing on the river
in fragments. When the girls came
with their breasts and their reluctance
to leave their panties in the tree shrine,
the energy shifted the water shook.
We brushed against each other, sent beer cans
crumpled downriver. From somewhere
in the crowd, a scream, then bodies fled,
clamoring over the bank. The cause a deer
who had come to test the shore with its mouth
and was frozen, as I was frozen, to the edge
until it bolted away and I bolted away too.
Into the field I ran with the pack of men
and in the moonlight I saw Tony, all of Tony,
and in his hand the hand of a girl, his mouth
coming down to her neck as they ran. Off they went,
back from where they came, but I had left
my reflection at the shore, the reflection
of the deer there too, my other's arm
outstretched to the deer and offering it water.

Jacques J. Rancourt was raised in Maine and now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is an MFA candidate at UW-Madison. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming from 32 Poems, Columbia: A Journal of Art and Literature, Cimarron Review, Linebreak, among others, and has been anthologized in Dzanc's Best of the Web. He currently serves as the poetry editor for Devil's Lake. (jacques.j.rancourt@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761