Explanation Beginning With a River
Swimming in a thin print dress among piranhas—
that year, you learned a place I can’t fathom.
In a jungle three thousand miles away, you
watched sea turtles bury their eggs in the dark;
you gathered bitter cassavas, drained their poison
for days to make bread.
You have patients now:
a woman drips with toxins, a guy in a johnny
chases you down the hall
cursing for opiates.
You have this place you go to—white distance.
I can shake the sky for nighthawks and parse
the bark-puzzle of a London Plane. It doesn’t
matter how many other people I talk to:
at home, I listen to the pipes thrum inside
our walls. I don’t know how to be alone.
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc’s poems, interviews, and reviews have appeared in Boston Review, Guernica, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Publishers Weekly and Verse Daily and are forthcoming in Pleiades. His work is featured at fishousepoems.org, an audio archive of emerging poets, and he was recently awarded the Bellevue Literary Review's annual poetry prize, chosen by Edward Hirsch. For the last three years, he has taught writing at Columbia and Fordham. (7/2006)