Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Those Who Are Left

Those Who Are Left

By David Smith

It is almost always raining
in their eyes
when they leave the boats
to form the circle.

They sit on their haunches
and pass the whiskey
in the cold fish-packing plant
until the rain turns to ice.

They are old.
The rain makes their bones ache.
The whiskey loosens the spasms
of their brittle chests.

They speak of the few fish
to be caught in the rain,
of the ice on their hands
of the sons who did not drown

but were found face down in water
thick with pale green plants.
None notices the one who gets up
when his shoulder is tapped.

The circle closes; spit hisses
on the pot-bellied stove.
One wipes his mouth on his sleeve
and speaks of sun on his forehead.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 46, No. 3 (Fall 1972), p. 254


David Smith

David Smith retired from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in July 2013. Since, he has been the Writer in Residence at Ole Miss, living in Oxford, Mississippi, where he’s been writing a lot of new poems and has taken up golf. His latest books include Afield: Writers on Bird Dogs (essays edited with Robert DeMott, Ironhorse Press, NY, 2012) and Hawks on Wires (poems, Louisiana State University Press, 2011).

Return To TOC