Adam Hughes



Sad Saint Lutra—
patron of riverside sycamores with their ivory arms,
of incomplete constellations, their borders broken by oak and maple,
of streamstones stacked on sandbars between the banks,
of fallen trees stretching across the water, their roots the homes of crawdads,
of clearings in the forest where we pitch our tents in sight of our porchlight,
of the silent, the still, the sleeping, the star-staring


when water drops from leaves
and stars, they are the tears of Sad Saint Lutra;
the thousand holes along the banks,
the places touched by the staff of the holy one;
the current in the middle of the stream,
the wake of his water walking;
the pink in the sunset, coals for his cooking-fire


when the hawk builds its nest in the top of the sycamore,
it's Sad Saint Lutra who supports the limbs
and holds up the chicks when they take their first plunge;
it's the good saint who sings
your children to sleep when they hear the coyotes
and know what their howls mean; he sits at the feet
of the ancients when the fire fades to embers


some days he goes missing, lost among the reeds
where the bank is a root-covered wall above
the bend; no one knows where he goes
but a fire of pine and old hay will bring him back
every time—the sparks spraying
and popping reminds him of stars
at the beginning of time—he's heard their secrets


if you touch his forehead, they say
you'll be able to find the sleeping places
of foxes—silvery ones who know how to hide
among the unlit boulders and beneath
the brushpiles; no one knows if this is true
as his forehead
is guarded by angels


I heard him once, walking through the long grass
of the bottom field, but I didn't see him,
all I saw was a cloud of fireflies
as thick as truth; tonight the stars
smelled like river mud
in the fur of a dog, the smell
all thick with current and decay


a thousand feast days, a dozen
resurrections, a million minor
miracles, hundreds of totems,
an amulet hung from the Pleiades;
his litany written in the tongue
forgotten by infants, remembered
by the dying, still spoken beneath the stream.

Adam Hughes is the author of Petrichor (NYQ Books, 2010) and Uttering the Holy (NYQ Books, 2012). His collection Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. He was born in 1982 in Lancaster, Ohio. He still resides near there on a farm with his wife and daughter, two dogs, four cats, and four horses. Should you google him, he is not the Adam Hughes who draws near-pornographic depictions of female superheroes. He cannot draw.

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