“Lamb” by Russell Colver

Russell Colver


It was Tony’s idea,
to roast one over an open fire
some weekend while the weather
was still fine.
Tony, who ran the oceanographic lab
as a buffer between his cherished staff
and the higher-ups.
Who every Friday brought
a lavish lunch for everyone
he’d prepared the night before
so they learned to keep silverware
in their desks and often diverted
beakers for the wine.
Who came home one evening
to find his wife and all his furniture
Who late one summer afternoon
when we stopped by
had covered every surface
of his fragrant kitchen
with branches of basil
laid out to dry.

Who led us out to his garden
where he’d been harvesting tomatoes
and we pulled warm globes from
bitter vines, ate most of them
on the spot, their taut skins
splitting in our mouths until it seemed
as if we were tasting the sun
made flesh on our tongues.

Who later sliced an eggplant
into a stack of perfect wafers,
breaded and crisped them in
a transparency of oil poured out,
and we sat at the lone formica table
in this most radiant of rooms
in this most abundantly empty of houses
feasting on the complicated sweetness
of the earth.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016


Russell Colver: “I like the way in which, unexpectedly, something entirely ordinary can suddenly develop an aura, so that it remains entirely what it is while at the same time flaring up, as if someone had set it alight. These are the things I remember, the experiences I try to recreate as poems.”

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