Parable of the Kingfisher
Christopher Martin

Out of breath, I finish my run,
turn back on the lake trail toward home. 
Years ago, I could’ve run both ways;
soon, perhaps, I will again, but for now
I’m content to walk, let my heart settle,
try to focus on nothing but my lungs taking air,
same that rushes through maples,
yellow leaves announcing their return to earth.

November dusk emerges on a zephyr,
weather not yet turned toward winter,
bears a warmth out of place, out of time.
A calm cradles the water,  murmur
of auric beams interlacing the green lake.

Along a wooded cove, I stop,
realize I am alone. Across the lake,
golfers that seem small as crows from here
return to their carts, creep through pines
away from the green. Behind me, a siren
drones somewhere on Main, a sound
nearly hushed by a kingfisher’s call.

I think of nothing and everything,
overcome by the kingfisher’s laughter,
and strip to my boxers, bare
a body of which I’m often ashamed—
heavier, uglier than it once was,
traced by cheap tattoos I got at 19—
and wade into the cove’s chill,
carrying worry like a stone.

Before me, trails of moonbeams catch fire,
refract in the fisher’s wake as it skims the water
like a candle tracing twilight.
Weaving air and lake, the fisher
spirals along the tangled bank,
feet from where I swim, seeks fish
as I catch my breath and my body warms,
asks in its rattling cry
where my accusers have gone. 

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