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The Mad Angler Barters Himself

2010 April 16
by Michael Delp

Reading water, air, fire, earth it makes no difference….
the language of things sifting through his hands like Braille.
He figures his life is worth at least one river,
an arm worth a single bend,
and the hairs on his head the equivalent of one riffle apiece.
He is ready to dismantle himself if necessary,
to stand at the edge of a chasm of meetings
and toss whatever it is they will trade
for that wildness he covets like blood.
At night he rides the backs of dreams,
watches the chaos under the surface:
the way death moves constantly through the water,
sunlight barely reaching the bottom of dark pools.
When he wakes, he feels parts of himself left behind,
phantom appendages, whatever it was he valued, given away,
just now turning into water,
his mind a bloody stream.

Michael Delp is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction whose works have appeared in numerous national publications. He is the author of Over the Graves of Horses (1989), Under the Influence of Water (1992), The Coast of Nowhere (1997), and The Last Good Water (2003), in addition to six chapbooks of poetry. His latest work, As If We Were Prey, is now available. He teaches creative writing at the Interlochen Arts Academy and has received several awards for his teaching. More about his work is available at his website.

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