Frail Words, Frail Deeds

E. Christopher Clark

I only drop a verse
when a story won’t come,
when words are a flat pond and
making a sentence
is like carrying water
with my cupped hands
my only vessel.


We are waiting for
the last wave by,
you and I,
but I am no good man,
nor wise, nor wild.
I cry not
for my frail deeds,
in this green bay.


I cry for your stillness instead.
That you do not dance
is what I rage against.


I see you more clearly
than my own memories:
your forlorn face
and far-off gaze,
a crutch to prop
up my imagination.


You are my iceberg,
so much of you beneath the surface
of the water that breaks
around your bare shoulders.


All I need to do is
tell the story
of the twisted strap
of your bathing suit,
of your twisted hair
and the lip you tuck beneath your teeth.


But the author must know more,
my teacher told me,
the poet more still.


I must know
what swims below the surface,


And so, the choice:
to duck my head
into the water,
to hold my breath and
find the truth of you; or to
hold myself up to the mirror
and begin the examination
I am too terrified to fail.


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