David Krancher once edited a literary journal called Dark Horse (based in Somerville, Mass.). He’s published poems in Dance magazine, Wilderness House, Dark Horse, and Bagelbards. This poem, like many others, is part of character investigation for a novel-in-progress called Stealing Color.
At the pond he’s still as a crane,
reads a book of red leather fine as
a Bible from a white man’s church.
Why does that story roll his eyes?
He turns. Does he feel my stare?
He doesn’t notice his cork dance
until his fishing rod falls and he
dives to save it before it swims off.
Fish hold no magic for him—words
fill his eyes. Would he find magic
reading my lips, a negro girl?
His lips twist and talk to the book—
his eyes love a story I cannot know.
My eyes love a boy I can never kiss
so, in my dreams, my arms hug
all the library of books he owns.
Does he read of white fish boys
who kiss brown fish girls even
when Papa bites their tails off?
I could be a brown fish girl, too—
wave my tail at a white fish boy.
I’ll dance to your stories, if you
solve the mysteries in my fins.
I wade in the pond behind cattails
until I’m close enough to read lips.
He calls for Sophia, not for me, yet
the mud warms between my toes.
I’m a book of a thousand pages he
can turn forwards or back again.
If I can flutter his pages as he traces
my lines with his tutored fingers,
I can wink at him in this chapter,
and the next, and the next.
— David Krancher
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