I strip by the spillway,
taste dawn’s copper light
in the sweet-and-sour leaves
of the sorrel weed. Whitman’s beard
unravels in pond mist.
His voice rasps through cattails.
The night his words first flared
like sparks from the page,
I said to the dark: I, too,
will indenture myself to lightning;
I, too, will trace constellations
printed on the sky’s carbon paper.
Last night a drunk friend
blamed Whitman for lighting the torch
that guided planes into Manhattan’s towers.
This morning Canada geese squawk
like radio talk show hosts
before skidding into pond scum.
A bass snaps at a dragon fly
suturing the air with blue thread, its wings
shimmering like stained-glass splinters.
In the hush between waves,
the mist whispers:
I know they claim I’m blind
as the cloud erasing itself
on water, as the moon
with a gray eye patch.
I know they claim I no longer shoot
sunlight out of me
against sunlight breaking into me.
But I, too, am a sun
pacing streets that are hospitals,
writing letters home for the dead.
When mist clears, a muskrat slips
from the willow bank, unfurls
its signature on water.
The sun prints a line
with its boot soles across the pond
for anyone to follow.
By Henry Hart
Recipient of the 2010 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
First published in Blackbird Spring 2010
Vol. 9 No. 1
Copyright © 2010 by Henry Hart