Nature Poet

for Lucas Clark

In the rain, I climb into the mouth
of the cave, and Lucas is rowing through
his dream. He says, there are so many people
in the next life, like you wouldn’t believe.
His boat has sprung a leak. He patches it
with a Polyphemus moth. His oars are two
snakes wrapped around his arms; they bite
at oil-dark stalagmites. Lucas opens a door
and we walk into the woods arm in arm.
He’s chewing on a reed. He’s chewing
the edge of the sky, peeling it back
with his teeth, until it’s a bleeding sunset
like fire on our lips. Lucas pricks a finger
with a pine needle, pours out names
for every poppy we pass. My hair drips
lake water, charting rivers back to seasons
I once knew by the feel of bark against palm.
Lucas says, it’s okay to love a ghost.
Lucas says, you don’t have to know
what you’re looking for,
and I collect the bodies of dead birds,
tuck them into the tops of my boots,
say nothing of the drought
we both divined, he from moon-baked
deer, I from salt quartz. Lucas spits
in the mud to make it sing. I open my fists
to catch something of its song.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash