Burn Lake 2
Carrie Fountain

We found a duck, a mallard, dead
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.


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