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Walking Catfish

By Beth Gordon From Issue No. 4

There is no orange in my dreams where green bottle flies swarm
and glisten, like shiny sharp tornadoes, an eternal nuclear winter as far
as the soul can see, as cold as pink embalming fluid that adds a glow

to the faces of the dead.  I don’t search for the sun, I don’t look up, I’m on
the edge of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. Tomato plants grow taller
than my knees, taller than the top of trees, but nothing ever

ripens, nothing bursts bright juice or saturated seeds.  If I were to find that
distant star, my eyes would never adjust, like coming in after a day in
the New Mexico desert, watching man’s creation melt sand

into glass. I don’t pretend to understand smallpox or diphtheria,
the quarantine has failed, a great white owl swims in the muddy river waiting
for migrating catfish to arrive.  Ghosts without sound, survivors

of my nightmares, they appear in my path, they don’t pause, they don’t
acknowledge my presence, DNA testing is unnecessary, we already know
the results. They walk, these unusual things, deceptive as cows,

they smell the water, the owl’s talons, the fire in my lungs. They turn
a frozen corner and one-by-one they disappear, the last one turns
and mutters. Don’t forget the tiger lilies.  I wake to orange flowers.

About Beth Gordon More From Issue No. 4