KR OnlinePoetry

Flood

How to measure a landscape from within its grid? The world is accordion and unfair. Our houses grow smaller in winter and expand in summer, joints stretched until they sigh and settle; then tighten,

wrenched down by invisible tourniquets of cold. My father, too, grows smaller every year, just as his father did and I will. Bones like lost hours. Scrolls of instruction wrapped too tight to read.

In the old world a man measured the earth by his body, which was helpful for knowing how much space was his and how much belonged to God.

A cubit was the distance from palm to elbow. Arm by arm, a man might know how big a rowboat he’d need in a flood. The craft smaller and smaller each season until it holds no passengers, his palms closed into a ship.

Joshua Rivkin's poems and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. He has received a winter fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, a Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford, a Fulbright fellowship to Italy, and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. He lives with his wife and daughter in Salt Lake City, UT. www.joshuarivkin.com