NICK COURTRIGHT


 
THE ARCHITECTURE OF GRATITUDE

It is obvious even to the slow-witted
that a fish should never die of thirst.

It is obvious even to the very smart
that a person should never die of breathlessness.

 
 
The two by four holding up the house

does not have a crisis of faith, nor does it rail against fate
because of something its lover said
while drunk and in a fight.

It just goes on holding up, until it does not.

Then it gets busy lying down, and not having in its knots
one crumb of guilt.
 
 
When we build we are only rearranging
what has already been built, and every father is destined
for defeat

at the hands of his son—

there’s a long history behind us, and a long one in front of us,
we animals.
 
 
 
 
DROUGHT’S REVELATION

The politicking of epochs, or of the pond

whose water receded,
revealing beneath it
a cemetery wherein

children were buried. All these years they had been buried

by the waters. Underwater
safe, their souls secure in their ceaseless

confined caskets of hydrogen and oxygen, each
of these permanent cells
its own diving bell

filed away in the chemistry of eternity
until the summer of such drought we’d never seen before.

        •

Rain itself became a myth

our fathers told, something passed down by mouth

and imaginary vision from their fathers and their fathers’ fathers
and mothers who cradled those fathers

as they died of arrow wounds
upon the frontier
or upon a porch they built with their own hands.

And now that cemetery where the young had been buried,

where their families had watched them
go into the Earth
to be one with it, knew years later

when people in their best heartened desires

built the great dam to redirect the water
to irrigate the fields to foster the corn

that would feed new mothers as they gave birth in a bed of flowers

and the horses as they dragged the plows
that brought the people from the ground

what could be brought, it knew that dam as it pushed the water
from one place to another

to make in that pan of earth
a lake

where once had been a cemetery.

        •

Now the water is for us to swim and so we did
all those years

they brought fish to it and the fish

had their own families and so too the algae

and the phytoplankton and zooplankton
and all the other things that became.

And the rain
when it splashed

cascaded to the ends of the earth or the edge of the water, until now

when drought is on, and the pond has receded.

Now, there we find
each and every grace down,

each and every gravestone,
each and every white skull

small in the hand to remind us of what we can be reminded of.
 
 
 
 



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