Former NEA Fellow Donald Levering’s latest book, Previous Lives, was published in 2018 by Red Mountain Press. Eavan Boland selected his work for the 2017 Tor House Foundation Award. He lives in Santa Fe, NM where he volunteers as a citizenship tutor.
“An Egyptian Myth” is the poetry winner of the 2018 Prose & Poetry Contest, selected by Carmen Giménez Smith.
Plying the oars of denial
I’m not really waiting in the car for my son
because I don’t want to see
his skeletal dwelling
He doesn’t actually emerge
with doll-button eyes
walking as if underwater
You see, I’ve been transported by a recording—
Osiris is murdered and his body dismembered. Isis boats up
and down the Nile, piecing his scattered body parts together.
We’re not truly inexcusably late
to meet with the attorney
instructing my son
about courtroom dress and etiquette
It’s not really my son sitting next me
who repeatedly dips into a poppy nod
as the lawyer goes on
How to plea How to be contrite
At last I’m back to the real story—
Believing in his resurrection, Isis scans the desolate shore
for pieces of her loved one among the river’s detritus.
But some of that other must have occurred
Here are my notes on urine tests
and personal recognizance
More on plugging the holes in his story
Back in the car, my son bobs like waterlogged flotsam.
Where the river merges with the sea, there’s the smell of salt marsh.
The bore tide picks up driftwood limbs as the barge slides through starless fog.