Neither here nor there, you don’t fit.
Starting with the inelastic head, you split.
What was face becomes a sail hauled down
slowly the length of your body in a gale.
It’s rupture not rapture, wriggling out
of yourself as out of a wreck before
help arrives. No help arrives. There’s
no doctor of larva to call. You get
the surface of a leaf, a kind of pontoon,
where you breathe awhile as you
harden and become responsive again
to need. Because the past is perfect
you’ll eat what you have shed if you
survive the opening in a life-size sieve.
Clean Water Act
—Minnehaha Creek, July 2018
My back to the cold, rushing summer stream I feel the pleated power of a watershed. The current would put me in its long pocket if I didn’t keep my feet dug in though every now and again it relaxes momentarily as if turning a page. The bottom is coarse sand, stones capable of being skipped, stones capable of crushing a man’s head and stones suitable for grinding grain. None are buried deep enough to offer lasting purchase on the flow. I must constantly reacquire my stance. An insect ecosystem that includes a metallic-blue dragonfly maintains without visible effort its dimpled surface-position a few feet away. The friend who brought me here, an amiable, excellent carpenter, speaks of a relative who’s in trouble. But I’ve never been less in trouble and can barely hear him. It’s not that I’m uninterested in what addiction can do to a person, quickly and completely and for no apparent reason. It’s that all the attention I can set apart from my body is as if by a binding prearrangement obligated to brindled light in trees that reach low for each other across water the color of moss and honey and fog and accompany it, arm in breathing arm, all the way to falls more than a mile off. I won’t go over those falls today.