Narcissus / Wesley Rothman

/ Photo: Megan Rothman


Another battle burns beyond the glen.

I hear their grunting, shield-glare, & dying.

Pray they don’t set the forest to crackle.

Pray for just a little while longer, here

By the sleek pool. Loop us together,

The water’s surface & me, smooth, rippling

Only for my breath. This Elysium,

This liquid plane, silent in my silence,

Company to my voice, nimble & shaped

To curves of the night sky, this will be my

Rest. This will be my rest. Who’s there? Who’s there?

No one but us, quiet glass. Keep my stare,

Let me swim into you & remain.

All you have conquered — beasts of the glen,

Coastal kingdoms, continents, the whole

Of civilization, me — with your one tongue,

Muscle, & focus. You, there on the water,

Govern the stars, the wars scorching farther

Across the map. You dictate time, rhythms

Of obliteration, eruptions, floods.

How long have I lain here by your side,

You, cast like a net over the surface,

Me, a sentinel stationed at the border?

A sentinel stationed at the border?

Who speaks? — Who could speak beside this image?

The colonel, the pawn, oracle, & blade.

How does the stopping of breath sound? Has it

An echo? The warriors in the distance

Could answer. So too could every body

You’ve conquered. Every body you’ve conquered.

There must ring a voice beyond the glen.

But the nymph stopped her own breath —

You stopped her own breath. You of focus

& force, you velvet conqueror, keeper

Of last breaths. Kiss me before I plash you

From the surface, fall in & pull you below.



Wesley Rothman is the author of SUBWOOFER (New Issues, 2017), winner of the New Issues Editor’s Choice Award. His poems and criticism have appeared in CallalooSouthern Humanities ReviewThe Los Angeles ReviewGulf CoastPoetry NorthwestPublishers Weekly, and The Golden Shovel Anthology, among other venues. Recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, and a Teaching Artist for the National Gallery of Art, Rothman lives in Washington, DC while pursuing a doctorate in literature.

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