David B. Prather
Bio Note: I am the author of We Were Birds from Main Street Rag Publishing. My work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and South Florida Poetry Journal (SoFloPoJo). I studied acting at National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York and writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
The Size of Myth
The hospital where my grandmother died collects sunsets and zephyrs across town. The Ohio River runs mindless as Lethe nearby. I know someone who fell from the bridge. He plunged into that hopeless channel where catfish grow the size of cars. I know someone who lost control, drove down the banks, barely made it out alive. West winds wear a path through town. People start to feel safe, despite the threat of a storm that lags behind. Survival is a matter of calculation. One summer, a barge loaded with fireworks exploded. People leapt off the deck into their mirror images, ripples and flames, an unholy flower blooming in darkness, only complete upon reflection. Downriver, a chemical plant radiates night with sodium light, as though something alien landed in a field, how it makes a flowing river glow. My grandmother used to call a breeze a promise. I’ve been known to watch it dance on the surface of deeper waters.
Frenetic is my word for fire, a wild crackle in my bipolar brain. Thoughts rush through these walls swift with the speed of light. I stir coals in the wood stove to see sparks rise like fireflies, which is a word so untrue, yet so passionate. Inferno is my word for love, a burning that you can’t control. Embers rise and drift, seethe and sizzle. Something wild can happen, can turn your body to ash, leave you breathless in the rising heat. Sunburst is my word for mania, a jittery feeling in the spine. Flames climb fast as angels making a run for Heaven, knowing sometimes the only end is otherwise. Otherwise is my word for anything I can’t imagine. Which is a burning lie. And fire is my word for faith, my word for knowing something better burns this tinder, something else takes root and grows.
©2021 David B. Prather
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL