Oh, sinnerman, where you gonna run to?
—traditional African American spiritual
First you see only shadows, sable bristles
Stippling the silty, ribbed floor, then
Glimpse the suspended apparitions.
Pencil-long, glassine so almost invisible,
Needlefish swept by my shadow
Quickly stitch tropical shallows.
How can creatures so sleek & barely real
Inscribe pure presence through still,
Colorless, estuarial pools?
My noon shadow folds absence into my body
Like black rice paper origami,
Then steals slowly outward at sunset,
A darkly famished silhouette
Whose hunger nothing can fulfill.
This sinnerman inhabits me.
No wonder the needlefish flee.