Brad Leithauser


There between the riverbank
and half-submerged tree trunk
it's a kind of alleyway
inviting loiterers–
      in this case, water striders.

Their legs, twice body-length, dent
the surface, but why they don't
sink is a transparent riddle:
the springs of their trampoline
      are nowhere to be seen.

Inches and yet far below, thin
as compass needles, almost, min-
nows flicker through the sun's
tattered netting, circling past
      each other as if lost.

Enter an angel, in
the form of a dragon-
fly, an apparition whose
coloring, were it not real,
      would scarcely be possible:

see him, like a sparkler,
tossing lights upon the water,
surplus greens, reds, milky
blues, and violets blended
      with ebony. Suspended

like a conductor's baton
he hovers, then goes the one
way no minnow points: straight
up, into that vast solution
      of which he's a concentrate.

Brad Leithauser, Hundreds of Fireflies,
Alfred A. Knopf, 1982.