“Fish,” “Paper” and “Unsteady”

Samantha Wright

“Fish,” “Paper” and “Unsteady”

Fish

What are these fragile little lightning dreams?

The apparitions of million ideas?

Universal clues disguised as flashing silver fins?

Fine-boned and slick,

fish swim through dark-eyed waters.

Other animals linger at the edges,

stopping for a brief drink,

leaving footprints on the shore.

Our ancestors, the wisest of spirits, remain.

They leave no footprints.

They are the very veins of the river:

The blood. The earth.

Our ancestors, watchful as black-tailed deer,

wait for us at the tributaries.

I cast my memory back to when I was

young and marvelous;

to when I knew more than I do now.

I was convinced of time,

of linear hours, and days, and weeks.

I think of my sisters and my brother:

the honest; the kind; the true.

I think and I think of the river and its story:

It is now. And now. And also now.

Circles, like cedar tree trunks, expand ever outward.

It is always now.

Paper

April fogged up the rearview mirror

when we spent November in Paris.

Gathered into my rattiest blue sweater,

I was like a scorpion wrapped in cotton

The Seine heaved itself against the banks,

lungs of smoke, lungs of dirt,

heavy with human extinction.

This old river of lunging waves, wasting waters;

coughing and coughing for centuries

Who knew one place could hold a poet’s ransom?

History, suspended by breath and trampled by exultation,

History, oppressed by the fog of a thousand conversations.

So many days of deep murmurs, passing by like ragtag boats

All the while, we spent November

eating cigarettes, papering the walls yellow.

We lived in an attic nook of frugality:

gasping for oxygen and denying it at the same time.

Unsteady

I always slip in the dirt while listening for heaven.

Although I’m unsteady in my gait,

I dream of running, of throwing rocks that land

As silently as tomorrow on the pavement.

Your teeth are small, embarrassed by a tendency to smile too much.

My knees act like cows confused by a turnstile.

Too late to the gate, I am a girl still limping on unsteady legs.

You see me stumble and speak softly to my feet.

The entirety of the earth says my name,

As though your words are traveling to the moon.

You should smile more, should smile as though it is your job.

You, a traveler, sent to save the world.

About the Author

Samantha Wright

Samantha Wright lives in the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of Western Washington University, her poetry has been featured by Moonstone Arts Center, The Showbear Family Circus, Cathexis Northwest Press, Mignolo Arts, Halcyone, Beyond Words, Wingless Dreamer, and University of Baltimore's Welter magazine.