Photo by Christopher Raley

The Stream

I left my sandals
by the unlikely
patch of crabgrass and
waded into the stream.

My naked soles cupped
algae on stones. Algae,
like dust, billowed off
with each careful step
in green, rushing water.

Cold stole air from lungs
as stream rose above
waist-line until,
all at once, I climbed
its far bank and sat
on a stone in shade
and watched my kids play.

On the way back,
beginning in that
slow, deep-cut vein of
current, I thought of
Peter. Big, impulsive,
loud-mouth Peter, who
didn’t know even
half the time what the
hell he was saying.

But as I emerged
and wiped my feet on
the crabgrass, water
running like rivulets
down skin while sweat still
beaded on my neck,

I thought, next time
I will deny that
cold hand, sink into
the stream, and submerge
my whole head in what
I will never
be able to drink.

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