Linda Hodge Bromberg Award in Poetry
We wouldn’t speak of it. Not that night, not the next morning,
not the next spring when Travis died, and my father came home
wearing every part of the lake but the water—his deputy’s hat
pulled low, the ten gallons leaking through the house. The windows
turned the sun into water on the walls, and I remembered how
that night you pulled me off the flying disk. After, we laid
in your bedroom, and I watched the light ballpoint your fingers,
the plasma ball bedizen the room with wallpaper, paint partitions
with little hands. I didn’t tell you about my grandma’s sister,
how she’s down there swimming still. Grandma says every branch
in the water is Martha’s bobbing hand. I think I see it clearly now—
a crystal ball, the augury in the lightning, the ribs in every needle.
I can read the writing on the wall. Nic, do you hear the water
running toward us? The banks building muddy across our childhood
like a dark wax—like the half-clothed river welting below your house,
where we watched the saucer rattle, some strange die across the ice,
the brown water filling its plastic lip; a wake of slush formed behind us.
The shadows lapped, the brown cord bleated toward the Great Lake—
and we wondered where our parents were, which boundary we’d crossed,
what gurgled in rough throat we crawled from, quietly, up the bank.