Cowlake, Arkansas, 1969

For the horses, in the run between the barn and the pasture,
where a catalpa tree bears its crop of worms. What draws you?

Constant tug of the dark water, the still water, its insides
tin and slick with green. Almost as tall as you are and—

your cousin warns—big enough to drown in. Just inside
the barbed wire that snags you when you lean over to stir

the darkness, to stare at the fish, enormous fish in the dark water,
gold and black, rising like apparitions to the surface,

where you scatter oatmeal stolen from your grandma’s cupboards,
an offering, a secret. The fish come to you, bidden, hungry.

They are everywhere. They are always hungry.

From Signals (University of South Carolina Press, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by Ed Madden. Used with the permission of the poet.