Bitter Lake

But for all its gesture
to the wild, nothing
comes more human

than this: “refuge,”
an oblong of mercy sliced
from the map.

Where hosts and dominions
of snow geese
billow and gleam

by water’s edge,
I think of Lear, dead
Cordelia in his arms.

William Wenthe’s books of poetry are Words Before Dawn, Not Till We Are Lost, and Birds of Hoboken. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as Pushcart Prizes.