Devil’s Lake

Spring 2013 Issue

Russell Evatt: The Animal and the Moon

The animal comes to the water in moonlight.

I have seen this. And I didn’t believe

it meant nothing. This thirst. How anything

suffices for the damned. Have mercy,

the rich man said, for I am tormented

in this flame. But God refused. I hope

I am not rich, though it must depend on parity.…

In this story I am a wanderer. God

is the moon, a tiny reflection in the sky.

And I am alone watching the animal

come to the water in moonlight. It isn’t fox,

raccoon, deer, or dog. I can see its face clearly,

and it is mine. Its face is my face. It looks

when I look. I don’t expect you to believe this.

Not even one returned from the dead could convince

you, God said, if you haven’t believed by now.

This is only a story of water.

I have been baptized in many rivers.

I have sung songs about washing myself

in the blood of the lamb. But this isn’t like that.

This isn’t a new man rising from the old.

I have delayed the comforts in this life for those

in the next. And to what great reception

have I come? There is a lie I used to believe

about meaning. That we were meant to end

misery. I have tried. I once found a half-dead

bird and beat it into the ground with a shovel.

But it stayed alive. I left it there

but it would not leave me. And so in this story

I am two animals. The one coming

to the water for drink, and the one watching.

a photo of the author, Russell Evatt RUSSELL EVATT’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, burntdistrict, Cimarron Review, Lake Effect, Poems & Plays, and Whiskey Island. He is the author of the chapbook We Are Clay (Epiphany Editions, 2012) and the coauthor, with Jaime Brunton, of the chapbook The Future Is a Faint Song (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming). He was a 2012 Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist. His website is More from this issue >