Eric Smith

Cedar Key, January

The distance a man
can throw a stone
is twice the length
his shadow will be
on the day he dies.
This is the first lie

of sunset. An ocean
gives birth to a green
flash at the sight
of night oncoming.
Light scales water
with bronze mail.

Terns chase shadows.
If a tern caught
its murkier half,
or a man found
another stone,
he would have

the chance to be
anything he wished.
Better to think
of the ocean as a fish
that has swallowed
all others, of night

as a creature without
secrets, of man
as a loose skein
of ritual—the tern
keening, the man

everything a constant
struggle for air. 

Eric Smith’s poems appear most recently in Indiana Review, Smartish Pace, and Southwest Review. He teaches at Marshall University and edits cellpoems, a text-message poetry journal.