Devil’s Lake

Spring 2014 Issue

Matt Morton: Spring Bulletin

One afternoon, the sirens stopped.
Soon after, spring resurrected itself as bluebonnets,
new styles. Jazz was back that year,
the blues was out. Everywhere: sunlight on bare knees.
Still, winter spoke to us sometimes
through its lexicon of vanishings, its lingering pull
of icicles like phantom limbs on trees. Something
vaguely unsettling about the quality of air.
Something about the humidity that left us
glancing over our shoulders when we mowed the lawn.
Now that we can go outside again,
one wonders as a result—Should I buy that ticket
to the mountains? Should I become a postman after all?
Or should we wait a little longer,
until the telegram arrives? Yes,
we thought to ourselves, we’ll sit right here. No reason
to feel guilty. It’s a lot to think about: holes to paper over, stains
to scrub from dresses
never worn. On days like this one,
sitting among the trees with their makeup on, it may be normal
or not to think Now I see, all this time
I have never loved anyone.
Not the way they do in films,
saturated with color, wearing fancy clothes
at the beach, clutching daggers.
It’s colder here than you imagined. We’re always getting it wrong.
Three birthdays since you spoke
to her, and then one April morning she called, Quick
it’s happening just like they said.
How did she get this number?
Sure enough, on every channel:
the elk were walking slowly across the bridge,
news helicopters buzzing around like flies.
In preparation, all the city’s hearses lined up around the block,
each driver waiting his turn
to lay on the horn. But all you could think about
were the fireworks at the county fair,
where, years ago, you held the giant red mallet,
standing on stacked bales of hay at evening, turning first
to make sure she was watching.

MATT MORTON was a 2013 finalist for a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a finalist in Narrative’s 30 Below Contest. His poems appear or are forthcoming in West Branch, The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, New Ohio Review, and 32 Poems, among others. Originally from Rockwall, Texas, he lives and teaches in Baltimore, where he is an Owen Scholars Fellow in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. More at More from this issue >