Spirit Flesh by Reynolds Price


After Lincoln hit a record high of 75 degrees in January of 1990, the following fall was also quite warm. An average temperature around 57 degrees over September, October, and November put the fall of 1990 over five degrees warmer than normal. Reynolds Price’s icy “Spirit Flesh” was featured in Prairie Schooner that fall, providing a frigid counterpoint to the unseasonably warm weather.

by Tory Clower

Spirit Flesh
Reynolds Price

Horn Branch, its homely pond, accept the snow.
Weeds and scrub hunker their winter crouch
This last gray week before the darkest day.

Same branch, same pond and these weeds’ hardy forebears—
Three decades back we lay in summer dusk
And counted fish: their skittish leaps for bugs,

Their agate eyes. Still nothing we saw was half
As fine as we—our coal-black hair, our eyes,
Your seamless skin, pure and taut as a bolt

Of creamy silk. Just at dark a snapping
Turtle surfaced, big as a tub;
You named this Turtle Spirit Pond.

He’s down there still, realer by the year.
We’re here, still hot to yoke on this white page.