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Michael WatersJanuary 20, 2022

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.

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