All Spring the creek behind the shack
grew clogged with the sodden carcasses
of black seagulls that dropped from the sky
like black sandbags from some black balloon
to turn the current's crystal ditty
into a garbled dirge of greasy sludge.
The fish lost all their scales at once
and the water striders got their feet stuck
in the slime that blossomed between the rocks.
The stream's thoughts, once so lithe and nimble
now coagulated into lazy mucous.
My old lady kept having to drag the baby
away from the slop on the banks
but the moment we'd turn our backs that kid
would be wriggling right back just as fast
as her pudgy little sausages would carry her.
Every day more and more of the ebony seabirds
would wheel overhead, only to plop one by one
into the goo. They never landed in the dirt
or the dry grass or the gravel road
or anywhere else, but always directly into
that trickle of rancid pudding where my old lady and I
had long ago made long, buttery love,
where we had scoured ourselves and the baby,
where we filled our buckets with water
to make our biscuits, and where later
she'd rinse her bloody nostrils
and soak rags in the cold, cold water
to press against the purple blooms
arranged in vases all around her eyes.
By the first day of July the creek
was completely dry, its bed bristling
with minnow ribs and salamander vertebrae
and my old lady had long since tossed the baby
and her few unscorched undergarments
into the back of the battered station wagon
before peeling out in a gaseous cloud,
leaving me with nothing but
the shotgun and a box of shells
and a sky cluttered with