On the Surface, Flashing


When he came back from the desert
he said he’d be a jarhead no more, so he up-
ended the tight-seal jug of his head
and let his hair flow out until it became a river,
drowning him awake.
In the moonlight, it is filled
with a hundred silvery fish
that leap and vanish.


He is so much more than what he is on the surface, flashing:
strange, lovely broadness of the mouth, but also
what he might say if he spoke of more than tides. His eyes—
high desert sky, and also
the unspeakable things
he’s seen. The incredible placidness
of his dreaming face, and what lies beneath.


Midnight, and the flash of police lights jars
him out of bed. It’s only the cops
busting drunk college kids,
but he is a long time
coming back. He is vigilant
at the blinds.

Right Tibia
from Henry Gray (1825–1861).Anatomy of the Human Body.

Copyright 2012, Alexis White

Alexis White was an alumnus of Carleton College, and was completing an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University. Previous publications include The Blood Orange Review, Burner Magazine, Dilate, Hidden City Quarterly, The Melancholy Dane, Wordletting, Windmills and The Atlanta Review. Last spring Alexis received a sustainability writing award through Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project in Environmental Humanities. Alexis White died on June 12th, 2012.

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