The Skylark Prize
SC Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities
Story of a Carolina Monsoon
At a place I know best,
the water sleeps around the ankles
of three girls with china-blue veins who watch
as boys, thighs like drums, shimmer
to the tops of riverside birches.
a climb of maybe fifteen feet, yet the girls
still scream when a barren grapevine
levers a boy into air, opens him
towards sunlight that brightens the beginnings
of a beard, makes him a man.
That much is temporary. A buckling of wood,
a snap, and he is boy again, wondering
if he has let his body slip beyond the safety
of his grip. Within fifteen years,
two of the girls will be raped, and the third
will smoke homegrown pot with her Libyan lover.
After that, I could meet any of them running
across a bridge in Charleston and forget
by sunset. Permanence lies only
in the waterfall behind us, which forever
growls in the base of my spine. I know well
the rushing of festered oak water after a storm.
At age six, I held my father’s hand
and let him lead me between two walls,
one of mineral and one of liquid
gravity. There, I sank behind a corner of rock,
a second womb, and he showed me to see
that wet sandstone is never
the same color twice.