Rick Barot


It is something to be thus saved,

             a point on which the landscape

comes to a deep rest.


The ore of a death held

             frozen, there in the gull so far

inland, embedded in the ice


at the river’s edge.  Its bulk

             in the thick gloss is darker

than the ice, shoe-shaped,


only the spoon-curved head

             telling you what it is, one eye

open though no longer seeing.


The feet are ribbed, like sails

             tight on a mast.  And a thing,

you remember, obliges by lying


down, its back to sky.  How long

             it has been like this, this little

a question to the world.


How small of a happening, though

           it happened because

there is witness of it.  The width


of water utterly silent,

           the distance a pencil-smudge

of Chinese hills.  First its fall,


then immersion, every air discovered

            out of each quill,

its feathers matted with grit.


The day is a white octave, breathing

             its snow, and the bird

delicate, like a bone inside the ear.



“Iowa” is from the collection Want (Sarabande Books, 2008).