Swimming With Eels

All summer, I watched them
make their ghostly caduceus through water—

fleeting, heraldic—
on their way to their own kingdom.

Seeing them rise out of clouds of decay,
from the lake's silk bottom

gold with an afterlife lit from within,
I thought: Even the dead lift their heads to collect sun.

Even the body carries its lantern of distances.
All my life, I have gone through this world,

a solitaria
waiting to be shown a wet road

galvanized by the body's own lighting,
clairvoyant as stone.

What flayed thing stared at me
from its button of blood,

its lidless socket,
greaved in its chain mail of lead?

I don't know what I expected to happen.
Perhaps for some god, the color of nothing.

to come rest its head on my thigh.
Long before this, I'd made my covenant.

To be left with their glistening,
I would learn to live within their circle of dread.