Lantern Review: Issue 5

Sally Wen Mao

Poem Beginning with Extinction

The swollen belly of the river will give birth
to dead things tonight. There isn’t a quieter
shriek than from the skein of dragnets—

the throats sag, earthward, without a sob.
Across the purple centrifuge, an embryo broils
in sticky silt. Children’s lullabies sluice

the dying dolphins with goodnights
to their fitful calves & bloody blue milk.
Skate, dead dolphins, into the gulf,

where the night will solder like a silver spoon.
On this night, as somebody loves another
body, spectral waters cannot stop licking

the moon. Like petrified dogs, they start
to jolt. On this night, as the water wraps around
a girl’s neck, and the aquarist marvels

at the things he could kill with just one hand,
Bye bye Baiji, croons the children’s chorus.
Goodnight, sing the dolphins, electrified.