The 2River View 28.4 (Summer 2024)

Christine Marshall

Light on Water

Again and again, headfirst into the cold,
            the pond called Sweetbriar that I knew
as a chance to leave myself behind, to lose
            the earth that kept me one, swim out,

            each surfacing for air a new face,
each missiling of my body through water
            a transmutation into light. Above, trees
made themselves known by what they blocked
            and projected. My body too

was blocked and projected, helpless and held
            while it kept flickering. All the way
across the pond I swam each day to touch
            the mossy ridge at the concrete barrier—

such a shock, concrete after so much abstraction,
            the way water fills gaps, quicksilver,
the way it coats the live-wire ends of nerves.

            In the fathoms of the future,
my mother would survive her cancer. My partner
            would rage Who are you and leave me
free, after all that time. Free. It was all

            there, though I couldn’t see it, like the Southern
water snakes that shared the pond
            with what body of mine was not a figment of desire.

Sweet, the water. Like briars on clothes,
            I peeled myself away.


Night-Wing, Light

It might seem the same
eerie glow bordered grey,
but dawn uncurtains yet
more light.  Hummingbirds
sip from morning glories,
rabbits preen on dew-bright
grass. In the kitchen,
our coffeepot coughs up
steam and we emerge
from deep internal roaming.

Dusk pulls shades.
The frightened or repelled inch
forth: the deer, coyote,
cat crouching under the porch.
Now the giant owl unfolds,
lifting from the flaming maple
to seek its fill of what
it knows, instinctively,
it needs. Its call reminds us
that we’re tired of being
seen. We close our eyes.
Our dreams spread wings,
conquistadors of the night sky,
bold, ready to strike.

Christine Marshall lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her poems and essays have appeared in places such as Agni, Beloit Poetry Journal, Best American Poetry, Memorious, The Missouri Review, and the Sun. Her first book, Match, was published in 2018 by Unicorn Press.
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