That First Summer
You want to dip yourself
into the soft vanilla swirl
of that young boy’s cone,
push your tongue into its center
but you are wrapped, head to toe,
every inch of you and it is dead August
so when you enter the thick lake
you can’t feel its green wetness
or taste or smell the sweet water
at all. While others slide off shoulders,
you can neither kick nor move your arms.
You lie beached, and stared at, sun spots
laser’d into your forehead multiply spontaneously
across your torso. And now you are banned—
verboten—from the lake. And next day, the lake,
the largest in the world, is drained lest some of you
Martha Rhodes is the author of four collections of poetry: At the Gate (Provincetown Arts Press, 1995); Perfect Disappearance (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2000), winner of the Green Rose Prize; Mother Quiet (University of Nebraska Press, 2004); and The Beds (Autumn House Press, 2012). Her poems have been appeared in Agni, Columbia, Fence, New England Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among others, as well as in the anthologies Agni 56: Thirtieth Anniversary Poetry Anthology (Boston University, 2002), edited by Askold Melnyczuk; Appetite: Food as Metaphor (BOA Editions Ltd., 2002), edited by Phyllis Stowell and Jeanne Foster; Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia University Press, 2001), edited by Susan Aizenberg and Erin Belieu; The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference/Middlebury, 2000), edited by Michael Collier; Last Call: Poems on Alcoholism, Addiction, and Deliverance (Sarabande Books, 1997), edited by Sarah Gorham and Jeffrey Skinner; and The KGB Bar Book of Poetry (Harper Perennial, 2000), edited by David Lehman and Star Black; and others.
This poem is not previously published.