Poetry: Nathaniel Perry

From a Diary, Dorn County

In his death, the marksman
missed a step.
He was in a tree

alone by the river
which crawls downhill
through town and clears out,

when a rabbit dared
the knoll in the middle
of the afternoon.

As was his custom
he let the creature
eat before

aiming. The sun
lit the rabbit
like a small jewel.

The marksman paused,
as was not his custom,
briefly to marvel

at the water and the light,
the light on the water
and on the rabbit.

When he shifted to raise
his gun, the branch
gave, or he slipped

(as the debate goes
in town) and tumbled
to the river. The rabbit

ran off nonetheless
—unaware of the sudden
absence of danger,

or of the light
breeze which had just
come around, or the fresh

stands of clover
clutched by the water—
terrified at the sound.

A Two-Step

There was a man called my father aside
one day, a waterman they say by trade,

who’d thread you the rocks for a buck.
Some say he’d pole you across in a skiff,

others claimed he walked the surface
and dragged you behind like a sock.

My father spoke with him, that much
is known, and stars made ideograms

undisturbed through the night.
Yes, they talked a long while. It’s said

there was even disagreement; knives
may have been drawn. Some swear

they only embraced and crops sprung up
from the spot. Some say there was a slow

kind of spell forced my father to dance.
If so, I can assure you he footed it well.

NATHANIEL PERRY has had poems published in Crab Creek Review, canwehaveourballback?, and The Mid-America Poetry Review; he has reviews forthcoming in Indiana Review and Lyric. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife and dog.

(c) Copyright 2006, Nathaniel Perry; author retains all rights.