Lantern

By M. Drew Williams

Though its stiff tin frame is thoroughly scuffed
and its glass panes are shadowed after shielding

decades of contained flame, it still works fine.
The wick remains in adequate condition,
makes a wild light when met with a struck match.

For its reservoir, I keep a small can of kerosene.
It previously belonged to a retired coal miner—

drunk, he explained how for years he’d take it
down into the dark during sixteen-hour shifts.
He rode the ferry into work every day despite

fears of drowning, and saw death in the lapping water.
Late this week, the wind and heavy rain rolled in,

seething around noon. Riverbeds that were bone-dry
yesterday, blanched by an unbearable summer,
now host currents that broke free from

their steep banks and spilt out over the county.
A downed powerline twists in the rising water

like the body of a beheaded viper. Rain batters
my windows almost hard enough to break them.
In this dark house, I huddle in the lantern’s faint light,

newly-endowed with a foreign fear of drowning.
If I was the praying-type, I would pray.

M. Drew Williams currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska.  His poetry has appeared in, or is forthcoming from publications such as Stonecoast Review, DIALOGIST, and Riprap Literary Journal. He is the author of the chapbook, No Ghost Goes Unnoticed (Leaf Garden Press, 2016). He is an MFA candidate at Creighton University.

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