The Robert Watson Literary Prize Poem SERTRALINE

Spring 2020 / Issue 107

Emily Nason

Object permanence: something my dog doesn’t think
I possess. She sits on the ball when she no longer wants

to participate. I wish to one day hold that kind of boldness.
Near us, a heron puffs his chest, wades knee-deep into

the marsh. What is more than one heron called? I never learned
that one. A flamboyance of flamingos, watch of nightingales,

bouquet of pheasants. My mother is somewhere, probably
working or maybe driving to the store. She likes to shop the sales.

We used to have the same birthmark, right over our left hip.
Hers: gone. Mine: bleeds. I look for deeper water. The dog likes

to float. Isn’t that how witches were tested in Salem? Something
about floating, something about weighing the same as a duck.

To keep still, I imagine the oil-sheen of a mallard in the dog’s
mouth, my mother’s hand in mine. It’s a siege, a siege of herons.