Given a mass die-off of menhaden

Given the stench all spring

Given flies circling the houses

Given windows kept closed

Given a bridge over a tributary. You adjust to the smell, lose track of time

Given a great blue heron appearing from the phragmites, wading toward you across the mudflats

Given the thin white fish in its mouth

Given a siege of baby herons swimming into view

Given their neon-green eyes, their frantic mouths

Given two men downstream, their remote-controlled drone circling the bridge where you are standing

Given you don’t know whether to stay or go. The herons. The drone. The stench

Given the dead menhaden decomposing within weeks or months

Given their bodies returning to the nutrient cycle—the mudflats abundant with them, spawning
marsh elder, glasswort, cordgrass

Given the grass provides shelter for the birds

Given the drone above you, the highway behind you, the stench around you: you are still seeking

Malacca River

When the rain came, sweet earth bloomed. /
The river’s wound healed, swelling to meet /
the first lightning strike in a kiss. Still buried /
in the silt of the riverbed, I opened my mouth /
to taste the first drop—as acrid as raw honey.


standing on a slithering rock wall / my fingers / untangle your hair from a yew tree

voice in air: afterthought

I / stare at the spider’s manifold legs / & little clawed mandible flickering / with evening’s shine, tittering / corners of death’s bite.