Eric Kozlik


My grandfather farmed river cattle with a rake,
wading into their water pastures, his calves parting
the current, searching calmly for the gleaming bodies
at the end of his senses. There would be the scrape
of soft belly scales, the leverage, and the torquing
dance of light on armor. Somewhere downstream,
my great uncle Danny was eating bananas, a whole
bunch of them, which was a decadence in Quebec,
where all the crops have faces like the people—brown
and wishing they were back in France. And so when
Danny began to cramp up, floating somewhere between
Lake Memphremagog and the Saint Lawrence Seaway,
I am certain he was not thinking of how the brave carp
in the Chinese folktales threw themselves out of the water
and became dragons way off in the swift headwaters of
the Yellow River. And as my grandfather flung bright
fish onto the lawn, the weight of a body against the rake's
bamboo teeth was welcome and expected, and nothing
else was happening in his world except the sun's pinking
shears slicing through a shroud of soft-bellied clouds and
the gills of the carp on the grass, hand-cut by the creator,
turning deep red and filling with air.

Eric Kozlik is an MFA candidate at the University of Maryland. When a B.A. in psychology didn't get him anywhere, poetry was the next logical step. He currently resides and writes in Washington, D.C.

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