pluck the light strings, though the empty hours till noon
you fill with the splendor of a woman's body
whiter than your own.
She stands, mistress
of half-tones, in the sweet drunken shade of a tree,
saluting the sun, the luminous leaves
harmonious as a chorus.
She disappears, water
split in two by her song. It hums in her ear. Swimming
is just instructing the orchestra, giving directions.
She crawls, stately
and slow as a mud turtle,
into the trembling black arms of a mirrored oak (it
flees the least dimple of water gargoyled to blue
by her heels),
her pale banana muscles
hurry the minutes, flurry the minnows, their many
discordant color values. She glides, decorous
as a minuet, among
wild green reeds, pausing
for whole moments when cool pockets of air caress
her body, her onion skin just one remark
She floats on
this patchwork surface, her fluted breath puckers
and grows wise. Sunlight,
ripe as muscadines,
climbs the E-flats
of a bank, where the royal purple of a stand
of crepe myrtle clears
LLEWELLYN McKERNAN is a poet, children's book writer, and teacher who has lived and worked in Huntington, West Virginia, for over twenty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Brown University and an MA in English from the University of Arkansas. Since the l980's, she has at times been an adjunct English professor at Marshall University. She has had her poetry and prose appear in such publications as The Kenyon Review, Agni, Southern Poetry Review, Antietam Review, Appalachian Journal,The Potomac Review, Nimrod, and others. She has received grants from the American Association of University Women, West Virginia Humanities Council, the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and Poets & Writers. Her work has received more than 55 awards/prizes in state, regional, and national writing contests.