It Took All My Energy
It took all my energy to want you
and the rest of me to go after you
and then one day I knew
that I had you.
I was standing at the sink rinsing dust
from a bunch of grapes.
All my energy had been spent
pursuing you and then I had you
I sat down at the kitchen table and ate the grapes.
The day was hot, that day
when I knew I had you. The man
in the house across the street
was cursing his wife.
An hour later I went to see about a job,
and the woman behind the desk
with her gold spectacles
caused me to remember that I had you.
Outside the sky was blue as a china plate.
There is nothing to do
on a day like that
but go to the beach. I caught three fish,
black and heavy as paperweights.
After the third I stopped to clean them in the ribboning surf,
three black fish flecked gold as the capes
of Egyptian kings,
strong swimmers, broad across the backs.
I slit the bellies, tossed the guts and roe
to the waiting gulls, cut the heads off slant
and lay them one by one on the gurgling sand
while I thought of you. Three small boys
picked them up
and carried them away,
holding them aloft as if on pikes.
Even as I fry these fish I think of
their heads against the sky
while the birds worked on a patch of sea
on the lee side of a sand bar that split the water
like the broken spine of a ship,
and as I turn these fish in the pan
I think of the day when I knew I had you,
and then the next, and then the day after that.
from River Styx #60, 2001
River Styx Magazine
Copyright 2001 by Tony Wallace.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).