Alex Streiff


            From the Myrrour of the Worlde by William Caxton, 1481

After my son pummeled the back door,
Fisted a knife into the lock,

Spat and stabbed at the glass between us,
After the police came, cuffed him,

And left, I tried, still trembling, to remember
How even the children of gods misbehaved.

In all the creation tales I’ve known,
Floods are raised out of the fantasy

Parents have of starting over,
Their vision of a beach swept clean

Of mussels, whelks, and cockles,
Even the little webbed prints

Gulls and terns leave in their wakes.
It’s tempting to pretend,

Lured by story or song,
But easier to believe in the leviathan,

That staple of medieval bestiaries
Sailors mistook for an island.

Who can blame them for their delusions?
No wonder, exhausted by storms,

They might see an enormous floating back
And confuse it for land. At sea so long, no end,

No end, they might even have been relieved
When the whale dove, taking them down.

Alex Streiff is the fiction editor of The Journal.
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    César Dávila Andrade, Translated by Jonathan Simkins
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    Tomaž Šalamun, Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry