AGAINST LETHE — RUTH FOLEY

And what of the disappeared?
What of the moments rising
from the bottom of the spring

In fever, we found each other once, like drowning men
scraping their fingers raw against the rocks as they
were pulled over and under, their canoe lost to the chute
and splintered on the talus. It was a little like that.

and bursting when they touch
the air? The depths of our
forgetting are suffocating. We

How quickly we narrowed up. If the choking means
we failed in the clutch, how much driving could there be?
The words are fewer now, and brittle, like the men,
like their boat of dust. Silt and flotsam. A kind of settling.

can so easily drown. What of
the tumbling and dropping?
Where will we throw the stones

Sobriety was not our strongest suit. We spun and
danced. We leapt onto fountain walls, slipped, came out
with our clothes weeping onto the bricks. There was
a time we could ignore the spray. I remember.

of our fractured oaths? Not
to the river. We are fashioning our
weapons. It would erode

Rats gnawed at the baseboards, chewing through wires,
sometimes fell as they climbed from the piers. Sometimes
we found them in the bilge. Sometimes we only thought
they were dead, only thought they were rats.

them with its burnishing.
The river would pull them from
our wrinkled, sleeping hands.

Those men, like me, were never sailors, never stood
at the stern and watched the land failing beneath
the rising tide of their wake. Never stood a chance.
They couldn’t find a foothold. Their arms failed them.

The voices call and lift. We hold
what we must and let the rest spill.

***

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Sou’wester. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review and blogs at Five Things.