Dry Spell

by Clara Barnhart

   
He claims he hasn’t caught a fish since
we got together but he’s still very proud
of his cast—a long arc that usually lands
in the trees on the other side of the river.
Says he used to catch fish all the time,
in streams even, didn’t bother packing dinner
when he went camping at Cranberry Lake—so
sure was he, that he’d be reeling it in.
But then he met me.
There was a large group of us sleeping
on that island, he and I strangers in neighboring
tents, popped up between red pines, a soft bed
of dead needles rust colored in late August.
Sitting around the fire I reclined against a rock.
He had brought along two bottles of whiskey
and was passing the second one around.
Give it to her, he kept saying, pointing at me,
She’s way too quiet.
He was wearing rhinestone-covered sunglasses
that he found in a bar somewhere.
I thought he looked like an idiot,
but I liked it that he didn’t seem to care.
His stomach growled later as we talked in our
sleeping bags on the smooth stone shore by the black
water, searching for stars through the on and off
mist and the surge of just hatched daddy-long-legs.
He laughed every time that I jumped,
because he knew without seeing,
that another baby spider had crawled across my face.
He pointed out the cluster of the Pleiades
and the haze of the Milky Way.
We talked about our brothers and the best place
to get seafood before he fell asleep mid-conversation.
I would later discover that he always falls asleep
this way, all at once and all of the sudden—right into
a dream, his limbs jerking like a dogs.
    

Clara Mae Barnhart is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Binghamton University where she also works full-time as an Academic Advisor. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Timberline Review, Paterson Literary Review, Louisiana Literature, Negative Capability Journal and elsewhere. She has creative non-fiction published by Gravel and the River Teeth's Beautiful Things Blog.