todd follett 

 


the girl who drowned in dover pond

                                           Jylian Gustlin

                                         Jylian Gustlin

Dead stars conflate

in the ice over you

tonight, torn dress

that no longer fits.

            Lidless eye, moon

gazing on meth heads

who shiver outside

the nearby library. Street

noise echoes in empty

halls like slivers

of silence wriggling;

the filament of my aunt’s

voice in a phone

saying the gulls no longer

wait among the reeds

she sees from her study.

The winters last

longer since you left

the living side of the ice.

By April, we can press an ear

to the great oaks and hear the soft

whine of squirrels

waiting for the world to grow

warm. When I was young

I was sure I’d seen your

shape in the water, my mother’s

white knuckles on

the steering wheel.

When the snow came,

we lost power for three

days. I was sure

the world was blanching

a welcome for you

shooting roots

between rocks that

whispered in the frost

I am here.


threading

                     After the photographs of Enrique Metinides

 

The man looks at you, holding a limp woman 

in his arms as the policeman swelters under the sun. 

Behind them, dozens of faces reflect 

empty barges drifting downriver, past a town 

 

where a man carries his mother in his arms, walking 

toward you, as if to ask is this what you came for?

The people clasp their hands together, look at 

the woman’s limp heels crossed, her head tilted up 

 

to face the sky we cannot see. Some of them watch you 

as you position your camera. The background is a wall 

of huge stones, every piece maintaining 

the whole, cracked and chipped. The onlookers’

 

mouths hang slightly open as if to breathe in 

a little of her death, the black star shading this 

moment. All their eyes go dark - The sun sunk 

behind them cannot reveal its light. Click.

 

*

 

Men’s faces peer through the cracked car window, 

its network of panic. The child sprawls 

in the seat, the silence after a crash; witnesses 

hear the world go on, glass exploded in protest. 

 

The woman beside him could be his mother

who tried to brace his seat with her arm, a thread 

to keep out the hurricane. The skin on her neck 

turned away looks soft, shunning 

 

blank eyes. Her hair pulled up among gold earrings,

she could be merely exhausted for a moment,

a repose before returning to the blur

she’d found her days becoming. The men stare

 

through absence, look directly at the camera,

at you peering in on this scene that is hushed,

sacred. Well, what did you expect to see?is the question

wearing lines into their skin. Click.

 

*

 

The blinding glare on the blade of the sky as she sits

beside him, her young face buried in the crook of her arm

to draw the shadows to her eyes. Her floral print dress

shines. The shape of his body will take over five months

 

to evaporate from the grass by the park’s path. He lay

face down beside her, a dried-up river. In another world,

they live on together and go to an old bridge

by the river where they eat chicharones

 

and talk about the way their city looks

when you drive into the mountains

and look back for a moment. Families walking

on a nearby street, point and whisper, afraid

 

fate will overhear. The clouds overhead

are teeth in a smile too strange to understand;

the grass reclines in the inevitability of

everything, a tuft still caught in his hand. Click.

 

*

 

A pole held out-of-frame is connected by a strap

to the man in the water. He swims toward a sopped

shirt-shape cresting the waterline. Ripples cascade

across everything. The clouds now murky in brackish

 

water alongside the reflections of the people, their faces

smudging together. A tree grows into the water

near the swimmer, weightless, absurd, a comfort

for the loss. A sign says this ecosystem

 

is a borderland for zapotes and silk snappers.

The drowned man may have imagined heaven

when he died but it was people who arrived,

shoulder to shoulder, to glimpse the dark side of a miracle

 

in that pond on a late spring day. They think now

of the eyes of their children playing in nearby houses.

A plane flies overhead, too close to the sun. The swimmer            

parts a mirrored sky to put his hands on the vessel.

 


Todd Follett’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal Magazine, and several other publications.