David Shattuck

THE RIVER BESIDE US

The rain has ceased. Across the city dark
umbrellas furl and spit the wet remains.
Behind the clouds light falls,
as dust on the streets carves their natures.
I remember the river widens near our house.
You walked down to the bank and leapt in,
cast your lot among smooth stones.
Now the river’s hushed throat calls in the dark.
I used to hold you like a ticket to the subway, anxious,
as if you might disappear, the streets forget their names.
As if I could lose; cast a wide net across
the river and find nothing,
as if I would seek the river out.

THE BLACK BIRDS

Midnight swallows the city. Everything is dark
as the pupil of an eye that sees nothing.
Last night I was startled awake by small, black birds screeching
in the eaves. Tonight they nest on another limb.
Everything is flux: theme and variation. Snow pummels
the rooftops. Somewhere you drive through a white desert.
I have seen the same mountain,
from almost every angle.
Once I saw a heart beating in its chasm
in a clean, white room. Come home.
The world doesn’t need you and there is light
enough in these yellow rooms.
Here you can cast the longest shadows.

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David Shattuck is a professor of poetry and composition at University of North Texas. He received his MFA from Eastern Washington University. His poems have been published in Clackamas Literary Review, Bellingham Review, and The Florida Review.

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