David B. Prather’s first poetry collection, We Were Birds, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in November 2019. His poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in many journals, including Colorado Review, Seneca Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, The Literary Review, Poet Lore, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Sheila-Na-Gig online, Grey Sparrow Journal, North Dakota Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and many others. His work also appeared in several anthologies, including Naomi Shihab Nye’s what have you lost?, South Florida Poetry Journal’s Voice from the Fierce Intangible World, West Virginia Writers, Inc. competition anthologies, and others. David was poetry editor for Tantra Press and for Confluence Literary Journal. He was also coordinator of the Blennerhassett Poetry Reading Series hosted by the Blennerhassett Hotel and the Blennerhassett Museum. David studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina with Steve Orlen, Tony Hoagland, Agha Shahid Ali, and Joan Aleshire. He also taught English and Creative Writing at West Virginia University-Parkersburg and at Marietta College in Marietta, OH.
I don’t know if you can feel the breeze
where you are right now,
but it is frisky in the limbs of apple trees
and scatters all those loose petals.
It is a storm. Pale purple
ground ivy blooms raise a fanfare
deep in the shadows of others.
I wish the whole world felt
this kind of joy. A quick gust
tickles the branches, and a floral squall
flutters and flows.
Can you feel the ecstasy? Can you feel
that lingering chill in the air?
This is one of those days
that reminds me of the struggle to change,
of the way one loss leads to another.
And, still, there will be a harvest.
Bees in rapture
spiral through the faint, sweet scent.
Listen to me—the faint,
sweet scent. I wish
you were here with me
to feel the tug and pull of the cat’s paw wind
batting at my sleeves, running around my legs.
I wish you could have met my friend,
who could have told us what it means
when apple trees toss their blossoms like brides,
if it means anything at all.
Gardens hush with evening,
foliage strapped with darkness
and the sort of quiet that speaks
with other voices―strong, clear,
passionate voices―the only song of night
we will ever know. We are surprised
that something has waited all day
to compose this nocturne.
Caddisflies, springtails, assassin bugs.
We don’t even know the bodies
out there, like ghosts
pulled up from wet grasses.
We cannot decipher the messages
clattering one over the other to reach us
as we sleep. Blister beetles,
checkerspots, and mourning cloaks.
They carve their disenchantment
even over a world of our own creation―
the brazen drone of street lights,
the hum of car engines three streets over,
the bombast of town after town
filling every valley, every copse,
every riverbed and flood plain, moving
through each tributary, ridge and rock.
Ichneumons, earwigs, hawkmoths.
We hear the brief joining of short lives.
We hear anxiety rubbing out of every wing,
every leg, and every mandible.
Each life is so common to its place, its time,
its inherent and unpreventable behavior.
Carrion beetles, army worms, and walking sticks.
By morning, a shred of moon
clings like lint to the hem of the sky.
Again, we are sure that someone lay in our beds
beside us while we preoccupied ourselves
with one breath and another,
someone who would take us as we are,
never asking whether or not we were ready to go.