Black Tern

In many ways we were lucky.
We had our strength, the heft of our bodies
rising each morning.  A cellar of vegetables
strangely magnified in their cap-locked vinegar.
Our house on the most imposing hill.

And when that dark clutch of birds rested at the lake
to feed on what grounded creatures remained,
we had an ornithologist tell us
“no, not crows” and “maybe terns,
black terns due elsewhere,” his binoculars peekish
between the boarded windows.
We winced at the blue crash of sky on grass,
the peppering of specks by the water,
and tallied our luck again from the beginning.


Ray Holmes is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His work has appeared in journals such as Architrave Press, Chariton Review, Fjords, Midwestern Gothic, and Thin Air. Ray currently teaches writing at St. Charles Community College and lives in St. Louis city with his fiancé and two cats.