In the b&w my mother stands on the steep lakeshore,
her back to the tall weeds and the turbid water below.
The newborn in her arms, face posed to the lens,
is me. I’ve done my best with feet and fists, my small
lungs blossoming like paper flowers in water, but she
is young and healthy and survived the assault of my birth.
A creative region, the water below mute and protective
with invisible hatchings of suckers, perch, of bullfrogs, but
for the silent snake undulating on the surface like Jesus,
like me dancing in levitation without pointe shoes.
The snake and me and Jesus, but first I was in her arms
and young and healthy and survived my own birth.
They found Jesus in the pillars, in the nebula where
born of cold and gas and dust and shrinking and breaking
apart the clouds, the protostar kills its parent to live.
After scaring away Jesus, more infant stars force gas jets
to discharge bombettes and comets, the fireworks’ finale,
and the new star, young and healthy, survives its birth.
Reflected in the lake below, the stars watch their lives.
Their light glints off the snake’s prismatic varied scales
and the bullfrogs’ yellow throats along the weedy shore.
Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light.
Stars and snakes and frogs and fish, infants and mothers,
forever young and healthy here, survive their lives.
About the writer:
Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart nominee, Castle studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Broad Street, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals. An avid blogger, Luanne Castle divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.
Image: “Water Music #22” by Roger Camp. Cibachrome print. 30 x 40 inches. 1995. By permission. Roger Camp is the author of three photography books including the award-winning Butterflies in Flight, Thames & Hudson, 2002 and Heat, Charta, Milano, 2008. His work has appeared in numerous journals including The New England Review, New York Quarterly, and North American Review. His work is represented by the Robin Rice Gallery, NYC.