- Self-portrait with Asian Carp and Mississippi
Clayton Adam Clark, poetry
Trees on the bluff, its layered limestone and the plants grown into rockface, down to the river road and inacross two pontoons and the water you stand in. Try to make the image wash you out. You take on the sun's halo,the colors shading toward the limit of your retinas. If you document the light scorching across your cortex when alone,you may never displace her I'm sorrys on the kitchen floor or all her scenes you never saw but have. You leave herand everyone on the sandbar to walk until the mud receives your kneecaps. The river's never clear, but Asian carp are probably feedingin this meander, the takers taking, never filling, though they deplete. We finally see the infestation in death of a species that never had a chanceto adapt. You trace it back to some mistake like anyone can know a thing before it is, could see what she submerged. You can't [End Page 298] eradicate what's bred this long, but you knew that bodies in a place they don't belong can turn invasive. The fish are made visibleby what they feel: a passing speedboat tears a seam in the river, and from the motor-whine and wake, dozens of Asian carp leap into the sun, their mouths wide open. [End Page 299]
clayton adam clark lives in Saint Louis, where he works as a public health researcher and volunteers for River Styx magazine. His first poetry collection, A Finitude of Skin, will be published later this year, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Mid-American Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. He is studying to become a clinical mental health counselor at University of Missouri–St. Louis.