Mud Shrine
Adam Tavel

Mud Shrine

Who says this river won’t remember bones
its half-drunk fishermen pitched back, their perch
unseasoned, charred, and eaten there beside
the docks? She swallows scales and tinfoil balls
that drift from minnow green to silt to stilled
velvet deep recused of light. After storms
what soul can blame her for surrendering
some shards of spine, miniscule as pinky nails,
upon the beach? Reclaimed there soon enough
by tide, no bloated gull grown bored with breeze
will pace their skitter glistening on sand.
Mother, we know the only meat that’s left
is blackened in the fire pit, a ring
one god knelt down and gave, betrothed to rust.

Adam Tavel

is the author of three collections of poetry: Catafalque, winner of the 2017 Richard Wilbur Book Award; Plash & Levitation, winner of the Permafrost Book Prize; and The Fawn Abyss. He is the former reviews editor for Plume, and his website is