Matthew Fash


-after Maggie Smith

Empty Next by Rachel Renaudin

The landscape sings in you like a ditch
frog: a flat line with no plateau. Your own
voice is floating down the creek, bleeding

out broken and purple. Here the water
is stagnant, with no spoon to stir
the mystery. You could swim, disturb the air:

a thick soup of love and prudence. They
are lies, of course, but dare not distrust
the water. That would cost your deposit,

the song singing in your chest: Ill noise,
Ill noise, Ill noise. It’s not the language
you know, but that’s the closest to home

you’ve been in years. Do you remember
your mother? Can you still feel the cigarette burns
dripping up your legs? Oh, she’s so sorry

she couldn’t make it to your funeral, that
you became the creek’s responsibility
all those years ago. She’s sorry she couldn’t

land the killing blow, couldn’t send you back home.
Do you remember home? The moonlight like shattered
bricks, dripping into the forest’s pockets. Those thick pools

of prudence which nursed you, taught you growth. Germination
was their expectation, their dream for you.  Illinois,
they sang in your native, sanguine tongue. The translation

never made it to print. It’s still bleeding from your neck
as your voice rolls down the creek, broken and purple,
like a ditch frog: a flat line with no plateau.


About the writer:
Matthew Fash is a senior at Indiana State University. He was the Honorable Mention for the Madelyn DeGaetano Academy of American Poets 2018 and the winner of the Mary Reid McBeth Memorial Scholarship. He currently lives in Illinois.

Image: Empty Next by Rachel Renaudin. Oil on canvas. 36 x 48 inches. 2016. By permission.