A Charleston Storm

The storm with blue veins
Of granite scrawls its name
In lightning this morning.
We sip coffee out of cheap mugs,
speak into the mist. Spanish moss
against branches like old photos.

The world of clean faces,
Sepia toned, silenced,
Is drifting across the tall grasses,
Gathering in the dimmed world.
The creases in your eyes
Could hold rivers.

They still speak Oklahoma days
From childhood when a faded woman
Crowed, ‘Shave your beard old man.’
The wheat pulled back from the field
and dust settled on the Buick
Parked at the back of the barn.

These are the days of clouds
when water sometimes drips between
Planks and you can’t help thinking
Of southern rivers, cracked palms
Held to the soft drop of what must
Seem the anticipation of memory.

We once waded a handful of thoughts,
shrimp almost translucent when the net
lifted from brine. Hundreds
Of sequined bodies caressing the prismed
Sun, as our feet worked through the mud
And a blue heron settled in the saw grass.

The loudest emptiness is after the thunder
Has hollowed the distance. I think
Of the shoulder she held a little higher
While washing dishes, the way dawn erupted
On her, how I could sometimes hear
Her singing through the glass on a summer’s day.

Catching Crayfish

Water wraps the ankles in a crystal voile
so sheer that even the sun is caught

in its twistings. It is all about feel –
the toes clinching mud, the way the ball slides

the slick rock until it finds purchase
in the moss, the heel’s rocking ballast.

You follow the leaves to where they turn
In an eddy, spinning palette of emerald

And grey. In your stillness you will see
A stone, half obscured by silt, flat, loose.

The slow tilt toward you holds a magic,
The roil of bottom into smoke, the current

Waving the small brown body into focus.
You are making it in your eyes –

pincers, carapace, articulate legs, stretching
antennae. Find the fulcrum of intention

releasing to instinct, let the fingers dip,
the palm cup, descend, hover, let all become

reflex. The hand sweeps like a brush
across the pattern of mud and leaves,

stirs the body into existence on your palm,
the delicate tail flapping against curve

of thumb, the tickle as it seeks shape, soft
pinchings of detail. Open the ovum of your fist

to something miraculous, raised claws held
in a V, defiance of this thing you’ve made.

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