On Naming Our Fear

The Broken Man’s Permission

A crocodile slips its earth-toned body 
back into the river, in silence, violence down
and for its nightness

I cannot see the water. With fear 
I am alone. Slick rocks smile thin anonymous light, they lie

about what I am. I see and try to hold
my body in my body, trace a vein 
from the base of my palm through 

the crook of my elbow, armpit, home—home 
makes no sense. I've given up on what I know.

This blindness is a mirror turning
back to sand still hollowed, where 
every sound is amplified. I want to be the crocodile’s

stomach that is my father, teeth
that are my mother, vertebrae 

that aggregate the spine that are loves, knuckled
angles casing nerves. It’s me wading around
inside, mouth open. A humid numbness dense, low, 

beneath the undertow: hands that coax and claim
my scaled neck, soothe and pull

each knotted shoulder. I give in to a third of moon caught
in cloud, its orange-grey halo drawn away 
from what can be named, known. A curse and prayer 

to go unchanged within this water, my movement 
foreign, a rootless gurgle, flit of river vines

caging the dwindling
river’s brutal bed, the gorge, flushed 
with new food: the blue heron’s bone-flight collapsed,

tangled feathers along the mudglut bank’s 
saliva, lifting like shame in the open.