The motel pool is shaded
in spots, black fading
into blue and grey
and the morning shine from
the sun is as mercurial
as it ever was, this last
sparkle of atoms firing
on atoms, just biology,
just simple first semester
junior college chemistry,
because water, salt, protein
and sugar make blood,
and it would be a good spring
day, he thinks, if it weren’t for all
the sad sirens, or the vibrations
of bare feet on hollow concrete,
or the panicked shouting,
sounding at first like children
at play, and then like children at war,
and then feet shuffling in blood,
and the feet are like the feet he would
bathe, like the last actions of his
brethren, his good, dear friends,
showing their courage and love
in the storm of their footfalls.
Lord, they are heraldic angels
every one! Pray, keep them safe
lord, keep them under your grace,
for they usher in the new paradigm,
the day where the scales tip to balance.
They raise their arms in terrible ecstasy,
fingers pointing, pointing, to the window
across the street, where he cannot see
for the graying at the edges, but he prays that
the first light of the new heaven finally
shines down into the end of things.
Oh, the wet smell of concrete,
this last thing, a song of farewell,
like rain, as good and cool as any speech
he had ever seen or ever done.
SETH BRADY TUCKER served as an Army 82nd Airborne paratrooper in the Persian Gulf. His first collection, Mormon Boy, won the 2011 Elixir Press Editors’ Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award. His second collection, We Deserve the Gods We Ask For, won the 2013 Gival Press Poetry Prize. His poetry and fiction have won numerous awards, including the Shenandoah Bevel Summers Fiction Prize and the Literal Latte Fiction Award. His work is forthcoming from or has appeared in The Iowa Review, Verse Daily, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, Connecticut Review, Chautauqua, River Styx, Asheville Poetry Review, storySouth, and Crab Orchard Review, among others.
This poem was a finalist for our 2014 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize Honoring Jake Adam York. Learn more about our annual contest here.