Austin Segrest Click to

asegrist-213Originally from Alabama, Austin Segrest is finishing his PhD in poetry at the University of Missouri. His poems have appeared recently in The Yale Review, Copper Nickel, and The Southwest Review, and are forthcoming in Harvard Review and Western Humanities.

Dorchester Neck, 1665

Bent over a breeched calf, rain
spinning off the placenta, I didn’t see
the waves net the millpond
to cut me off from shore.
The black hound Luther yipped
across the chasm. Lightning smote
the islands. I had not recourse
but to huddle with the herd.
The slick calf quavered.
White gold, His Hand
swooped down the fume and moil
and seized (I later heard)
His servant, Captain Davenport,
standing guard. When I could see
again, despair was all. The fort
across the harbor blazed,
the air acid, tinged with green.
Headlong the Hawk
that plucketh the saint, his eyesockets,
they said, smoking. Unsearchable
is that translation. Then the tide
ebbed, the gale ripped northward.
As the sea parted for me,
an unwitting captain,
the millwheel pulsed and swung.
It did seem to me to beat out
the holy poem Mr. Warham taught me,
“Unto myself, myself, myself…”
But I couldn’t work it out,
how many selves there were
shot under the wheel before the word
“betray” ground to grist for God’s
bread the ‘I’ that once could not believe.