Stephanie JT Russell


When the last drop of the Onondaga
utters its final secret, you’ll be nothing more
than a glint in the mare-foal’s eye as she
staggers first time to her feet. Reduced to light,
you won’t mourn the breviary page gone missing
in a cloister catacomb— nothing like the forgotten
grocery list turning up in your dotage at the back
of a sock drawer, its tame litany coruscated
and awake as the Epistles translated by Copernicus
before he lost his head to the sun.

Great teacher, great trickster hides the truth
at lake bottom till we’re done arranging ourselves
for the portrait, grandmothers tucked front row,
rib to rib, grieving the rationed breath of descendants
unborn. They have witnessed the tarn-basin rise,
peeled back in smears of dirty wind.
What civilized being would not turn away
from her mother’s naked underside?

There is no hospice plan for the dying lake.
No epidural for the fishes’ stunned vista
beneath a raft of disinterested spores
drinking up the light. Though cataracts
deploy like pupa veins in our eyes, we will
recognize each other when no recognition
of the body remains.