The 2River View 28.2 (Winter 2024)

Gary McDowell

Twelve Hours Later

post COVID booster

What of prayer? Swallow, watch
the sun set, or if you prefer,
let darkness come,
                              what are these

eyes for? These hands? Snow
in the cistern, snow in the--
I curl the fallen leaf as though
                                                that cures

the leaf already fallen. Already fallen.
A pattern, once established, a pattern
one paints,
                   precisely. Where’s the lie?

To rest, to reconvene. Health will now
be called there is no window
I can open without
                             touching all

that has changed: the persimmon tree,
            over-ripened--fallen--fruits, remnants

spread thick across the lawn. But even
more, the time I take to notice
that which I’ve already seen.


Only at dusk. Only in cold
water. The tiny failures

of the world.
                      It’s a wonder

at all we sleep. Fifty miles
in a night--current is less

force and more swirl,
                                  and we,

pigmented like an eye--soon
it is pouring. What is beautiful

            if not this body murky,
river-numbed, lake-locked. Come

chase this shadow, this upstairs
mottled window into which

we see. There is no parade, this
            open-mouthed, this

whip and fill and unstitched whistle,
this forage,

                   for years in the dark,
our cover our pass-us-by, our pray

for me this wind-gusted light, this
this this night this
night we feast.
Swarm sideways this vision, bloom

us in the shallows, in the shallows
daylit and beautiful and spit.

Gary McDowell is the author of eight books, including Aflame, winner of the 2019 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, and others. He directs the MFA program at Belmont University. (website)
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