The National Poetry Review

Rhett Iseman Trull


Before this abundance of iris and coneflower
anchoring water’s edge, drought
puddled the lake, sapped mud to fine dust. But now cormorants
return, and turtles all sizes—wet shells onyx in the sun—adorn

driftwood. Before,
I cast so far into the waters of prayer that I could not see
where my line fell sinking, and after season after
season, stopped believing any small tug
was anything but a ghost fish, trick
of my heart, my hunger. Now I’ve become what I dreamed of: mama
cried for in the dark, mama to turn on

the day. In this first spring with my daughter, I circle us
again around the lake, where greens are greener
now, though not everyone will notice, and the sweet
insistence of the honeysuckle is less an affront
though I’m no longer, when I taste it, returned
to childhood but somewhere quite the opposite, when longing
pulled the world into a corset
tight around me. Now the breeze undoes
the petals of the cherry tree like fist releasing treasure. The heart
does not forget.
                         One cloud
sits fat as sorrow in the sky and won’t
let go its rain. A snail skirts the crevice
where path gives way to grass and only thinks it knows
how long is an inch. Before,
I reeled from these woods, pressing myself
like a fog beside the water. I named the lone
heron who fished the shallows, and I’ll never reveal
his name. Does he recall anymore
the sound of my stumble, the quake
in my voice when I whispered hello? When I most needed
a friend who couldn’t say everything will be all right or there’s a reason
for this
, that great bird turned to me, beak like the

hand of a clock pointing out the loaded hour, that time beyond waiting, edge
of a universe, years measured in light, where then is now,
now is then, where the world knew me when
or never knew me. Where I held out my love,
all my love, in my small hands, no one
to receive it, no tether to hold me, my shadow dissolving
into the lilyless pads, some part of me out there
on the water still, floating forever away.

RHETT ISEMAN TRULL’s poetry collection, The Real Warnings (Anhinga Press, 2009), won several awards, including the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award and North Carolina’s Brockman Campbell and Oscar Arnold Young awards, and was nominated for a Poets’ Prize. Her poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, American Poetry Review, Image, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Cave Wall.

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