Back to Issue Forty-Four

Nature Poem



I wish it were the still-flailing pike in the anhinga’s beak,
iridescent scales flashing
like nightclub sequins, the dance of its tail.

Or how its nail-polish flesh abandoned the earth
in a brilliant instant,
the anhinga’s gullet an interruption, an indifference.

And even how, as I pushed my craft out into the open
water, expecting each bird and fish
to scatter, to leave me,

I was startled
when my oar hooked the anhinga near its wing, and even more so
when it did not flinch.

It floated there, blood leaving its terrible neck
and spoke, asking me
why I had assumed its departure.

I was silent. My answer lay submerged
just below the surface, barely visible.
If only it were these memories

of entropy, of elegance, that propelled my narrow shell,
cut through the water like ink.
These, and not your clavicle, your still-beating flight.


Rob Colgate (he/she/they) is a Filipino-American poet from Evanston, Illinois. He holds a degree in psychology from Yale University and an MFA in poetry from the New Writers Project at UT Austin. A Pushcart nominee, his work appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Prairie Schooner, Washington Square Review, Muzzle, and Adroit, among others. He is the winner of the 2022 Andrew Julius Gutow Poetry Prize and serves as assistant poetry editor at Foglifter Journal. Currently, he is a Fulbright scholar conducting research and writing poetry at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Disability Studies.

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