Laura McCullough


The boy got away by climbing
the fence, though the others would surely know

it, and he hid in the shadows
by the pool house, the moon clothed in nomadic

clouds that would blow by soon.
He found the gate to the baby pool unlocked,

and opened and shut it with only
the smallest of grating sounds. The others had

been scared off by the signs
that read These premises are always under

surveillance. Above him,
a dark unlidded eye, below, the cool concrete,

and he lay down, wondering
who could see him. Soon, the clouds rolled out,

the big moon creeping across
the pool’s surface, a jelly fish or stingray rippling

when he fanned his fingers
through the cold water. When he was a baby then

a toddler, he’d played here.
At home, his mother is counting the minutes

until curfew, and the other
boys are lingering in wait along the road home.

Here, below this breathing
moon, for a little while, nothing is expected of him.

He puts his arm in the water
up to the elbow, his hand flat on the rough bottom,

breathing easily, his shirt riding
up exposing the basket of his ribs, inspiring, expiring,

the membranes between water
and air, sky and ground tender and grave, like a kiss.

Laura McCullough’s third collection of poems, SPEECH ACTS, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2010). Her second collection of poems, WHAT MEN WANT, is from XOXOX Press (Jan., 09 2008). Her first, THE DANCING BEAR, debuted in 06. In 07, Mudlark published her chapbook of prose poems, ELEPHANT ANGER, and she won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Guernica, Crab Orchard Review, The Oklahoma Review, and others. Laura is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex.

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