Ten thousand night lamps darken,
And the surface of the lake quivers
And twitches like dumb muscle.
We slip our ghostly bodies
Into the crucible of its lips.
We are the soft wooden shells of boats,
The click and sink of bones,
We stink and rot unseemly as meat.
And all that we have wrought goes under,
And all our eyes go blank,
And all our myriad tongues fall silent
In the cruel mud of such fragility.
And all our limbs unfurl themselves,
Like white flags, into the final quietude
Of this watery green stillness.
J.D. Schraffenberger is the associate editor of the North American Review and an associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of the book of poems Saint Joe’s Passion (Etruscan Press), and his other work has appeared in Best Creative Nonfiction, Birmingham Poetry Review, Brevity, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Terrain.org and elsewhere. Schraffenberger’s essay “Ecological Creative Writing,” co-written with James Engelhardt, is forthcoming in A Guide to Creative Writing Pedagogies (Southern Illinois University Press).