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The River

Last night I hid from you the loss of our son.
One of those dreams in which trout
elude our jacklight among the rocks

and stars dam up the sky.
I wade, at times, on all fours to catch them,
to say nothing of what you do.

Yesterday’s weather was not intimate.
No sign how that night the night
would pool, ending neither with the earth
nor the moon rolling in the west.
How could we prepare

to walk these miles as we do
searching for what cannot be found?

We cinch our seines and freeze
in this, anything but numb.



I touch nothing, mindful of my dust.
In her dream, Hedone is freshly-calved
ice adrift deep in the sea.
In the kitchen, stove light plays on the

tile’s shallow crests. In search of something
I lie against the wall. It’s two a.m. I’m a moth
peering down at myself in flight

among snow. I lift the Republic, shuffle the ads,
stare at Hedone’s slate blue eyes—her grandmother’s—

wide open on the fridge. I listen to water run its course.
Then there’s the baby, and the violent

borealis ripples across the house its chorus of chiaroscuro.
Psyche glides on the subtlest melt of ice

to her room and back while across the cold
my breath burns a small cloud of stars, my girls curl

into new layers of a shell. A shore disappears.
I hear it, pressing my ear to this vast, deep white,
indigo sky, berg of sleep.

This Kind of Wonderful

Especially on days there’s no sun
there’s something else to forget. I imagine you
lying beside me, touching toes
a moment in bed.
In the kitchen window I watch

navy clouds replace this sunrise.
Something magical may happen, it’s true,
another baby’s tooth, another baby,
that look you make nudging my hip with yours

when you waltz past, everything you do a trick
to which there is no secret,
and this morning and every morning like this

kind of wonderful, solus before the curtains, day opening
as quietly as last night, and as memorable, imperfect.



Speak to me she requests, sideways
on the anvil
her father left, this nicked beaten thing

not his body nor its warmth,
not the Lipizzaner’s reins she’d hoped
the smell of his hands had stained
nor the scepter he used and preferred she use as a cane.

In Iceland as a boy he was gifted this anvil
by the man he loved
like a father. He told me

Once I shot an iceberg on the shores of Jökulsárlón,
and the slug flew off like a pipit from an uncrackable seed.

I don’t know what she knows
of the marks he made on this steel, if she feels
cold or hot against it.
She presses her ear to the horn, eyes closed,

listens for the proper pain.

Copyright © 2011 Damon McLaughlin

Damon McLaughlin lives in sunny Tucson, Arizona where he helps uneducated adults earn their GEDs.  His poems appear in a variety of print and internet journals and anthologies, including the Best New Poets series and Red, White, and Blues: Poets on the Promise of America.  His first book, Exchanging Lives, was published by the Backwaters Press.  In the off hours, he sings for the rock band Red Star Rebellion.