Chelsea B. DesAutels
Again the sun traces its steps across the field.
Evening in August. The grasses sing an insect song.
From where I sit, all the maple and ash trunks
are black as if rained upon. A pick-up truck has rolled
to a quiet stop under one of the trees, probably
two teens finding themselves. And you won’t be surprised
to know the field is beginning to sparkle with fireflies,
little gasps of light. Everything everywhere is terrible,
including here. I can’t pretend otherwise. Not the love
the young people might find, or the idea I have about
the trunks—that the sides facing the sun might be golden,
so that the trees might be reaching up on legs both
black and gold. It’s nothing new to see the ending
will be beautiful. It’s nothing new to milk the light.
In a church in Texas, we read Russian
poets and discuss the radical
imagination. Outside, children sing
a song of fish. I’m in the back pew
sweating. I pretend I’m smoking
a cigarette to exhale my doubt,
which rises in rings above my head
until it hits the wooden ceiling
and bounces back. The children
return with wet knees from kneeling
in the grass by the fountain and imagining
what fish in the deep sea might look like,
how they might sparkle. In the car
on the way home, we invent a magic
rainbow fish. It’s made of every single
color and it glimmers, and it’s the fastest
swimmer in the world. This rainbow fish
is uncatchable, my daughter says, because
of its speed, and also it’s never been seen.
I’m about to ask her how she knows
what it looks like but she has a question
for me instead. Do we still have red glitter,
she wants to know. When we get home,
I want to make a fish.
Chelsea B. DesAutels is the author of A Dangerous Place (Sarabande Books, 2021). A Tin House Scholar and winner of the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize from the Missouri Review, her work appears in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Chelsea lives with her family in Minneapolis.