Reservoir by Michèle Betty

– from Dark Horse

~ after ‘First Lesson’ by Philip Booth

In the reservoir,
I recall a dead man’s float.
Gliding from one side of circular
cement walls to the other,
where sage water laps,
I salt-lick fingers and ponder—
a dead man’s float is face down.
I flip to my back, cool water
seeping to the base of ear canals,
sounds dulled, arms and legs spread-eagled
with the reservoir’s circumference—
like Vitruvian Man:
superimposed geometric proportions
of a primordial humanity;
a palm is four fingers,
a foot four palms,
a man twenty-four palms;
as eyes sink to sockets
soaking up an aqua sky,
cirrus clouds and olive branches;
in this cosmography,
in symmetry, I recall—
a dead man’s float is face down.


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