Roy Bentley is the author of Walking with Eve in the Loved City, chosen by Billy Collins as finalist for the Miller Williams poetry prize; Starlight Taxi, winner of the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize; The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana, chosen by John Gallaher as winner of the White Pine Poetry Prize; as well as My Mother’s Red Ford: New & Selected Poems 1986 – 2020 published by Lost Horse Press. Poems have appeared in Pembroke Magazine, The Southern Review, Rattle, Shenandoah, New Ohio Review, and Prairie Schooner among others. His latest is Beautiful Plenty (Main Street Rag, 2021).
Gravediggers at the Vila Formosa Cemetery
in Sao Paulo, Brazil during the Pandemic
—Victor Moriyama for The New York Times
I’m thinking of Billy Collins, his never
having fished the Susquehanna River,
and yet there is the poem “Fishing
on the Susquehanna in July,” which begins
with his gargantuan disclaimer about the river
and his having never baited a hook and fished it.
The nature of truth is one slippery fish, to be sure.
However, truth is a fighter with a respect for rivers.
And fish whose acrobatics are most impressive in the
torrent-months. Billy Collins is right to say some images
bound from a canvas. It’s like that with the photograph
in The New York Times: men in white protective gear:
a quartet of gloved, booted workers digging graves.
One of the taller of the men has turned away from
the godawful work if not from the photographer,
shovel emptying of light then of earth. There—
see those mounds? Kubota tracks at the margins?
Is it too much to say the bruised, injured planet
is opening itself to us? I’m thinking there must be
an algorithm to assay the weight of uncaught fish
and another for the weight of these rookie souls.