Back to Issue Thirty-Seven




I wasn’t afraid of water until I began
to carry this phone all the time,
like my grandfather did the secret
revealed at his funeral. Best time
to meet you is just after the storm
stops, the beaches still empty
as wood stoves in August—
before anyone’s thought to squint
at puddles out the window to ask
if the rain has given up. Whenever
it’s like this a kestrel shelters
on what’s left of my windowsill.
Wet feathers look so much like
your hair coming fresh off a swim.
In the receiving line a stranger
in a walker held my hand and cried
how she loved him. ​We had many
late nights, though I shouldn’t talk.​
But she couldn’t stop herself—who can?—
so she repeated it again and again
until discretion was a boutonnière
on the dead. I tried not to look
at my grandmother, sobbing perhaps
for a different reason. As a child, I loved
to take refuge from a downpour in the deep
end of the pool. Practiced hiding
from something by immersing myself in it.
I shouldn’t talk. The Romans watched
birds to understand the future
though now we do it just because
we like it, the way morning’s
discretion retreats from the past.


Robert Wood Lynn’s debut poetry collection Mothman Apologia (2022 Yale University Press) was selected by Rae Armantrout as the 2021 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He holds a law degree from the University of Virginia and teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program at New York University. He lives in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

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