Burn Lake 2
We found a duck, a mallard,
on the shore, head split, eyes loose,
yet when someone poked it with a stick
it shuddered suddenly
and stood up, then collapsed again
and died for real, which to me
explained a lot.
For a while I’d had a vague idea
I could kill myself by holding my breath.
Yet when I locked myself in my room
and tried it, I fainted, fell face-first
into the closet, and came to in a panic,
thinking for a moment that
I’d done it, and death
was just my little blue room
at the back of the house,
my brother’s stereo thumping in the bathroom
while he labored over his pornography.
I was shocked then
by my body, its plain intention to continue
with or without me.
Every day now I feel myself
pressed harder into this life.
Sometimes it’s so near and docile
I can feel my hand take hold of it.
Other times it’s that old, alarming
grief, that animal scrambling
to its feet, desperate
to be living. Because it’s
mine, I wait for it to die.
Then I bury it.
Carrie Fountain was born and raised in
Southern New Mexico. Now she lives and teaches in Austin, Texas, where
she was a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. She recently finished
her first collection of poems, titled Burn Lake.