There was a moment
when the boy knew something had happened,
an inarticulate sensation of animation coming to an end,
his body giving itself over to buoyancy,
first in the limbs, then the torso,
finally just a dull light, a filament about to snap,

and in the dimming vision,
the sight of a face underneath him,
knowing arms were encircling him, but unable to feel.
Then a newness as if what was extinguishing was transferring
to the water spreading out around him, wrapping about the older boy who was pushing his discarded body

up and out, and then the air
was a plane over which he fled,
away from the lifeguard’s anguish,
nothing to do but become part of the expiration around him,

the mutable winds and waters
stirring and going still,

  leaving behind requirements and consequences,
wearing everything else away,
creating shorelines and islands,
and covering, again, the humiliated sky.


Laura McCullough's third collection of poems, SpeechActs, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2010). Her second collection of poems, What Men Want, is out February 1 from xoxox Press with blurbs by Hilda Raz, Denise Duhamel, and Kurt Brown. Her first, The Dancing Bear, debuted in 06 with jacket blurbs by Stephen Dunn, Li-young Lee, and BJ Ward. In 07, Mudlark published her chapbook of prose poems, Elephant Anger, and she won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship, this time in poetry; the first was in prose. She has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. In 07, she attended the Summer Solstice Writers Conference, went to Bread Loaf again as part of the Social Staff, attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Guernica, Crab Orchard Review, The Oklahoma Review, Perihelion, Anti-poetry, Tusculum Review, Hanging Loose, Pebble Lake Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Iron Horse Quarterly, The Hiss Quarterly, The Pedestal, The Potomac, Nimrod, Boulevard, Tattoo Highway, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and others. Her book reviews have appeared in such places at Webdelsol Review of Books, The Potomac, and Small Spiral Notebook. Laura is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex.

| Write to the Author | Archives