24 November 2006

Carol Frost

[from Carol Frost's I Will Say Beauty, 2003]

Eel Spearing

Just before dawn a woman and boy have come
to the river, water all stir, boat bobbing
and softly slapping, and soon she is leaning forward

while he holds steady the boat. Where prickling brown
meets smooth shining brown in eddies, they watch
for the sinuous shadow of the eel beside a sunken rock.

The boy’s face suffuses with a quiet glow,
and soon the breaking day will catch him, and us,
whose imaginations strain after the shape in the water,

in its purples and yellows — in a time made simple
by the motion of the waves rocking, filling in
the small depressions in the riverbank, smoothing,

mixing, and dissolving clots of earth. If any
are thirsty, they can cup hands and drink. For now
we are looking into the dark stream and the darker

pools — under a spell, so when darning needles
and water walkers hop, then are flying, whichever
of them falling first falling to the frog who stirred

them up, we only see eel. The boat rocks,
the water almost opaque but for sun through alders
glancing off the crumpled surface in one breath

of wind, then sinking a foot or more, and it is
promise, tone, direction, regret, and love.
This is the power of their bodies, the woman’s

and the boy’s, and of the eyes, jars spilled
back into the river. She holds the spear.
Something moves and piles up.

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