Stephen Scott Whitaker. Chase.

21 Jan


for Nate

Shotgun pellets rattle oak, thin thunder aches beyond
the miles.
Storms smells ripen. Two of us turn left,
the other three have cracked the bamboo,
but they will leave trails, a wide broken swath, and blood
cut from sawgrass growing between.
What did you say?
Before the strike broke over the sky? Safe is the country
that outlaws make?
What pounding blood marches
in the ears, what pounding. The girl and I duck low.

The crack of rifles repeat, and repeat.
Thunder fattens
and enlarges.
Break for the reeds,
duck down below sight lines.
Crawl, crawl, crawl until water laps and licks at your skin.

The marshes, the marshes.
Once boats took me to work.
I fish in the rolling vowels, no more, no more.
What fed us will hide us till dawn. Follow the marshmud shore
till the channel opens up. No roads lead down the channel.
They cannot follow.
Keep your knife close, breathe through the mouth
when the rot roils up. Low tide is dangerous, for the marshes
give up secrets. What will come of us, I cannot say.
When I was a child I feared the dark. In the chase
it is the mark of safety, the equalizer, the truth all men know.

A scream waffles through a glottis port, a throat is dying,
dying on the run. The girl with me pauses mid step,
a breath, a breath.
To rest is to risk, to rest is to give up.
I feel her heart in her wrist, and we stop for air.

We have become dumb fish, to stop moving is to die.

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