the water. Kingfishers slap surface,
dip and cut wide figure eights, lifting
like flapping hands into the sky.
Rain comes, peppering the surface
like thousands of winged insects, tapping
light fingers against the roof of my van.
Curtains blow. From the tops of poplars
I hear the wind moan, turning the alkali
over upon itself, the clay mixing
with gray shale, trickling
down from the tailings. The small soil
that runs between roots of a willow
clouds the vacant water
and spreads like the spawn of fish.
— Al Ortolani
Al Ortolani has been teaching in Kansas for 37 years. His poetry has appeared in the Midwest Quarterly, The English Journal, The Laurel Review and others. His second book of poetry Finding the Edge will be published by Woodley Press in 2011. He is currently co-editor of The Little Balkans Review.