We walked on a sandbar
stepped where a blue heron stepped
the four lines where its foot fell
pressed into crackles by our weight.
We found warm shallows
where life abounded
mollusks the size of our palms
had pulled themselves across the floor
doodling blind, directionless lines
searching for I do not know what
We found a gar
dried to leather
black as driftwood in the moist sunshine
sunken eyes like leather coins
expressionless, shriveling down
to its primeval skull.
We found wet clay
as deep as our knees
We mired ourselves on purpose
and struggled back out again
Pretending we were dinosaurs
Or maybe the making
of some new fossil
Everything on the riverbank leaves a trace
Every path is printed
That is until
the water rises, falls
and refreshes itself.
Each rainfall rinsing
the palette clean.
still pond, clear water
a spotted koi
insatiable little fish
wide open maw
food, acorns, dirt, air
anything it can swallow
feed it and it doubles
in size, in need
churning the water
begging to be filled
tearing the perfect reflection
into ten thousand tiny pieces
Pull me into your slough.
I can take it.
I’ve learned to tread the water.
I know the routes.
I can’t lead you out
But I can sit beside you a while
How to swim (or, what I’ve learned in swim class):
Keep your head below water.
Be a fish. You love the water.
It’s fun to pull yourself through water. It’s like thick air. It’s like Jell-O.
Breathing is overrated and unnecessary.
Keep your goddamn head below water.
Pear-shaped people have a built-in pull buoy.
Make sure your swimsuit can handle your awkward maneuvers. Otherwise it might fall apart while you’re swimming, and then you’ll have to play it cool while diving for the lost strap.
Don’t stare at the instructor’s aging aquatic mammal body. One day you too will look this strange.
Feel the water with your forearms.
Aim your hands for the center of your fish line.
Keep your damn head below water.
Pull each stroke with your whole torso, not just your hands.
Think about every little motion.
But don’t think too much about it.
Fields ringed of blue
Refractions of the upper world
Circling an abyss
Inside the center