We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


Catch and release

It was once in early May, a raw day,
Bitter, on a western creek, I crouched
Beneath a weeping willow, expecting
Nothing, resting really, the black back
Eddy smooth as glass when suddenly
The rod tip bent with such great force
I almost fell, but didn’t though
I couldn’t move, it was that cramped
Beneath the tree nor could I even raise
My rod. I could only hold my breath,
The reel singing, line spun out,
Pulled by what I couldn’t see, but
How I longed for just a glimpse,
A glimpse would be enough, I thought,
Until a glimmer showed itself, a flash
Of light deep in the dark, and then,
Of course I wanted more, the all of it
To see and hold before releasing,
Letting go. Like life, the way we’re meant
To live, to let each breath be all there is,
But seldom do; it isn’t easy.
Perhaps I prayed, I can’t be sure, but
Inch by inch, the fish drew near, until
The moment, timeless, now, a rainbow
Like a blessing rose, shimmering,
A gift bestowed.


Staff Sergeant Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) thinks Tikrit will be the last stop on his tour of duty in Iraq. It’s a bad finish: he leads his men into an ambush. He loses three of them and another winds up blind and crippled. When Brandon and his childhood friend Steve Shriver (Channing Tatum) return to their Texas hometown, they’re proclaimed war heroes.


We say grace before we start
to eat good things together, as if
our thin voices could somehow
divine it. We call it table grace,
as if it were the elegance of furniture.
We say a woman has it in the way
she moves. We equate it with luck
sometimes, modify it with sheer
as if we could shave it to size.

Our gesture is not the real thing,
we know that, that’s wholly
Your deal. This is mere posture—
or should we say sheer posture—
a way to halt moving limbs, to cease
together here, to allow a tilt
toward gratitude


After so much darkness

                      —for my father

After so much darkness, the field’s excess of light,
the day floating on itself as in a dream.
But it isn’t a dream, the small wound songs of the house finch,
the sun hammering the grasses’ bronze tips.
We had gathered about your bed

like a boat we tried to push off stony ground.
We wanted to help: we believed in the buoyancy of that water.
You held onto the ruins instead of our hands.
What did we know of how it is to look back at one’s life?

A bee swings from the nightshade.
Ants carry their burden up the post of the shed unmoved by song.The grasses bend under the weight of so much light.
And the balm of the wind: from the woods the singing of leaves.
Or is it the sound of water flowing?


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

When he was in his early 40s, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of a French fashion magazine, suffered a massive stroke which left him completely paralyzed except for the movement of one eye. By using this eye and a Morse code of sorts, he was able to dictate a memoir to a caring and patient scribe.