The Great Dismal Swamp is
Hardly Heidi’s Antistrophe
Yes, I remember still those retrogrades
by which Heidi scaled the ferry gangway,
and how the railing cast off from itself
like dander so many skins of fallowed paint.
Light roved across the river, mammal
and retarded. In slow-toothed English
I throttled her, cost her loosely fisted
coinage down the bilge-pump whistling
the keel in that nebula of saints—prophetic,
self-forgiving. I am of sickly nutrient, I said
as she administered the ceremonial syringe.
Go ahead, reach into the pannier saddled
about my ribcage. Hide two of everything
in your mouth. One for you, one for me.
Forgive the conflation of boat and bite,
the dilatory motile sun furrowing zealously
toward us. That was no paramnesia, and she is
no fissure in my excuse, no sheet to yank back
from her glacial thigh. Where are you now, Heidi?
To what shore have you stormed exit south
with glowing cargo staved beneath your gums?
Remind me where, from the jump, we were headed.
I wish only tributaries to feed you. I remember
following the river, the hull, your arms hose-like
over the rail where priggish trout haggled birthrights
among one another, finally, after aeons. My new hope
is unlike the old hope. Let me begin. The old hope
was your body washing up like a scad of black lungs
upon the shore at low tide to be picked apart by gulls
and the new hope is a name you call when drowning.