George David Clark recieved his MFA from the University of Virginia and is now a doctoral student at Texas Tech. Most recently his poems can be found in Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, New Ohio Review, Quarterly West, and online at Verse Daily.
Giant salamanders, blue-black and purple-black, lie
along the bottom of this stream in Northern China —
I cannot even balance the place’s name on my tongue.
They lie like bruises in the stone-strewn pools, two meters long
and older now than I will ever be. My naked
feet are the moon color of such fish as each night wake
them to hunger. My cold lungs ache. With bankside willows
going gold and half moon hunched where the cloud-flank narrows,
this stream becomes a kind of syrinx that can speak two
languages at once: beneath the perfect fluency
of water you hear salamanders in their submarine
discourse through the rocks and know that tooth-glint, that ghost-rheum
in their eyes. So how does a man cross here and not upset
the surface, cross so that only his shadow gets wet?