The great grey rat tonight fast-walking
up Park Avenue towards the Americas
Society with a lilt and a lit cigarette, backpack,
more rat pack than rat rat, wants to marry me!
He’s a visionary with a hedge fund, struts right
into the hedge. Good to be you! The next
morning I see my first dead rat (not the working
glamorous future husband rat), but a humungous cat-
style rat dead-grinning on a drain on 59th Street
across from Bloomingdale’s. His warm soft
fur in the silver rain, his gloved fingers,
great joy face. You’re dead, Rat! He isn’t facing
facts. A quality much admired in the dead.
Along the Quay one February Night in Florida
Walking home alone I come to the bridge,
bicycles scattered like great silverware on
the narrow sidewalk, boys with
fishing poles glinting in the streetlight,
mansions great flat shadows behind us—some
Gerswhin soars from a black terrace under tooth-slice
of moon. Shovelhead shark on the concrete,
one trout, and crabs, crabs like clothespins
on the edges of the buckets. Dying.
Poor fish. Poor boys. Poor old
lonely us who’ve swum, drunk,
in these waters, mistaking fish for boy, thigh for
love, love for home and home for tonight.
I walk slowly now under the fishing lines
like floss—careful, my hair. Hey. Hey. Happy to live
so near such cool dark water.
Heather Sellers‘ award-winning memoir, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, has been featured by O, the Oprah Magazine, where it was a book of the month pick, Good Morning America, Rachel Ray, NPR, The New York Times, Dick Gordon’s The Story, Good Housekeeping, More, Elle, and many others.
Heather Sellers was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. Her PhD in English/Creative Writing is from Florida State University. A professor of English at the University of South Florida in the creative writing program, she’s teaches poetry, nonfiction, and writing for children. Awarded an NEA Fellowship for fiction, she published a short story collection, Georgia Under Water, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. She’s published a children’s book, Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure, three volumes of poetry, and three books on the craft of writing. Her popular textbook for writers in any genre, The Practice of Creative Writing, is out in its second edition from Bedford/St. Martins . She’s taught at the University of Texas—San Antonio and St. Lawrence University, and, for 18 years, at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She’s currently at work on a novel for young readers, essays, and a new memoir.