The 2River View 26.1 (Fall 2021)

Eric Nelson

Clearing the Air

He’s drifting out of the woods, head bowed,
right arm raised and waving slowly, 
fingers spread, the way someone in church
reaches for God. About my age, he’s dressed
as I am—cargo shorts, t-shirt, low rise hikers—
a version of me approaching me, and I’m touched
to witness his communion, the summer foliage
an eternity of tunnels and arches, sun-mottled

trails scrolling through trees like illuminated script.
As we near each other he smiles a little sheepishly.
Lowers his arm and says Don’t worry, I’ve cleared
the air for you. Now I see he wasn’t praying
but shielding his face from webs. On his sleeve
an orb weaver scrambles toward his neck. I don’t
tell him. I feel wronged somehow. Not that I care
about the webs or spiders. They’ll be back

tomorrow, but floating from the woods that way,
head down, arm up—I wanted a seeker returning
from wandering, answer in hand. Then a branch
snapped me back to me in the woods with the dog
as I am every morning, thinking to-do’s, minding
the poison ivy, urging the dog to his business.
No epiphany in sight, no holy whispers in the canopy.
Yet I keep yearning for them, for more, and already
I’m envisioning tonight—spiders stringing the trees
not with sticky traps to wrap prey, but with an array
of harp-like instruments tuned by wind and dew.

When Water Is Up To Here with Us

It will rise above us,
roll in great waves
through our houses
stripping beds,

sheets and pillows
drifting off like jellyfish.

It means to unhang
family pictures, lay
them down beside
the drowned,

carry off the bodies,
the pianos, the aquariums.

Then tetra will swim
with walleye,
eels drape
from ceiling fans

and potted plants nestle
in the limbs of maples.

The large appliances
will float
through doorways
like sea mammals

migrating, following
food, singing to each other.

Eric Nelson has poems in The Oxford American, Poetry, Poetry Daily, The Sun, and Verse Daily. The most recent of his six poetry collections is Some Wonder.

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