What Was Lost | wisconsinacademy.org
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What Was Lost

Only one night we watched
the full moon remember the tops of the trees,
spilling radium over an unused road
and the pond at the edge of the field
was full of silver and longing.
The fireflies’ green light was too cool
to be reflected in that restless water,
on, then off, the on at random
but all at once, so we imagined
they were constellations until they moved again.
We both ran down to the dock
at the edge of the pond
where you flung yourself in the water
but I held back in the night,
sitting on the dock in moonlight
while small breezes invented my life,
the fireflies, the gesturing leaves,
the moon broken across the water.
You broke the surface,
your life streaming from your shoulders
like electricity and good news,
and you coughed and called to me,
“This is so cool, I wish I had a camera,”
and I just nodded,
not even looking away from the fires
because this night was given,
requiring nothing from me but myself.
Because both of us knew
that this is our life, and
both of us know we were carried away.
You dove back under,
making a gasping sound as you disappeared
and I sat on the dock, surrounded
by a photograph that was never taken.



Robert Russell is a recovering economist currently living in Madison. For over ten years he was co-producer of the “Radio Literature” program on WORT-FM, and was coordinator for the CheapAtAnyPrice poetry series.

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