High and Low

in Environment by
I have climbed to the thinnest air,
though even there the way is soiled
with human shit—the traffic,
the clamber, the stink of it.
I left ice and heights behind
went sea level to sea
and climbed inside
so I could go down as far
as I had gone up, and further still
until there was no more depth,
nothing but an ocean’s weight,
cusk eels with glassy heads
and pale snailfish milky as dreams.
I let myself dream I was free
of us in that hushed, always night-
dark deep. It was a short dream
for soon I saw what anyone might see
on the side of a road or snagged
on a fence or tree—familiar
trash, a single stray, plastic bag.



Matthew Murrey’s poems have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and Rattle. His debut collection, Bulletproof, selected by Marilyn Nelson, was published in February 2019 by Jacar Press. Murrey is a high school librarian in Urbana, IL.


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