In this late-autumn dusk

trees discard their leaves

like August’s junk lottery tickets.

She stands before the pool,

long since drained of water,

arms raised high, toes curled

over the edge of the diving board.

What makes her want to swim now?

Where was she all summer?

The quiet, clockwork stars

spin on their eternal vinyl sphere

as she closes her eyes, bends her knees.

She’s grown fat with sweet wine

she can no longer taste.

Her suit fits like a catcher’s mitt.

Grass grays in patches like stubble

on an old man’s face,

so she looks skyward, heavenward,

and launches herself into frigid night,

into emptiness cold as a new grave.


by James Valvis

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, and many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.


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