by Michele Poulos

At midnight we canoe the bayou
in a yellow shell, a daffodil

curling for dark. I’m only now
beginning to know this man,

his beard and nails’ blunt
manicure. He tells me the red

eyes of alligators sweep cypress
knees bald, how the animal

leaps vertically if provoked.
He asks for his harmonica. I lean

over, steady myself on the frame.
His notes lap the hyacinth,

burrow in the brown mud.
He remembers the animals come

for marshmallows. Why didn’t I bring
a bag? Why am I always forgetting?

Months ago, he told a waitress
to lower her voice—

its timbre hurt his ears. She laughed,
thought it a joke. Now we knock

our wooden oars. Up front,
under tupelo, he points

to scarlet breaks in the shadows,
rips a mallow flower

from a bush, crepes it
across the water’s copper finish.

Michele Poulos is a second-year MFA student in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed her BFA at New York University in Tisch School of the Arts. She has a book review forthcoming in Blackbird. Her work has also been nominated for Scribner’s Best New American Voices 2008 anthology and the AWP Intro Journal Award 2007. She was recently awarded VCU’s David Baldacci Fiction Fellowship for 2006-2007.