Two Poems by Lara Shipley: John and Nightswimming
The day John died, everyone was at the hospital but me. I was making a soup he would have liked, meatballs with vegetables. Too many people bought whiskey on the way home, so we all got very drunk. Afterwards, my aunts and uncles got into an argument, I think about God. I was very embarrassing.
My mother brought out a jar of ready to use garlic. John kept holy water in it, but there were a few chunks of leftover garlic floating around. We joked it would be good for vampires too. Mom said not to laugh as she passed it around, so we stopped.
On a night so full of stars I saw many of them shoot and fall while floating on my back in the dark lake, my dress crumpled on the rocky shore. The water was muddy and always smelled bad, a noxious mix of things living and dead. Not long before, an officer came to our gym class and played us a VHS of drowned bodies, bloated and black, dragged out of this very lake. Afterward, I sometimes thought I could hear their echoing voices in my ears under the water.
And then there were the fish. I’d seen them piled up in the beds of pickup trucks in town, fish like monsters, their bloody carcasses eight feet long. So it was always a little scary, but still, we’d swim all summer. What else was there to do? That one night, the stars kept falling and falling, as if someone had shaken them loose.
Lara Shipley is a MFA candidate in photography at the Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. With a background in photojournalism, Lara has credits at newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad, such as The Atlantic Online, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, La Nacion, and The Miami Herald. Before coming to graduate school she was a photography producer for National Geographic Online and a commercial freelance photographer in Washington D.C. She is a photographer primarily of people and out of the way places. She is also a former resident of Santa Fe, NM.