W.D. Ehrhart

    (Perkasie, Pennsylvania, 1957)


I had never before seen anything die.

Maybe a squirrel struck by a car,

or a bird caught by a cat, but nothing

so vivid, so slow, so thorough as this,


so little changing from day to day

we hardly noticed the thickening

algae, the yellow-y green of it sick

for weeks with the absence of water,


till we suddenly found ourselves walking

where always only water ever had been.

Only the holes held water now, and the holes

grew smaller, the holes grew crowded,


the fish grew frantic until they could

only lie on their sides in the mud

gulping at water that wasn’t there,

and even the mud in the deepest holes


would be brittle tomorrow, the fish

encrusted with blue bottle flies, each fly

as big as a thumbnail, hungry, the only

sounds our feet on the creek bed snapping


like rivets in iron heat, and the buzzsaw

buzzing of tens of thousands of flies

feasting on death, even our memories

of water too cruel to be spoken aloud.

Found In Volume 26, No. 02
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  • W.D. Ehrhart
W.D. Ehrhart
About the Author

W.D. Ehrhart teaches English and history at The Haverford School, and his most recent book is The Madness of it All: Essays on War, Literature and American Life (McFarland, 2002).