It begins in a cow lane with bees and white clover, courses along corn, picks up tempo against rocks. It rises to a teetering pitch as I cross a shaky tree-bridge, syncopates a riff over the dissonance of trash—derelict ice box with a missing door, mohair loveseat sinking into thistle. It winds through green adder's mouth, faint as the bells of Holsteins turning home. Blue shadows lengthen, but the undertow of a harmony pulls me on through raspy Joe-pye-weed and staccato-barbed fence. The creek hums in a culvert beneath cars, then empties into a river that flows oboe-deep past Indian dance ground, waterwheel and town, past the bleached stones in the churchyard, past the darkening hill.
Behind us, the channel half-clogged by bullhead lilies slips back into the smoke of yellow tamaracks clouding the shore and we glide on the silk of a dream so deep, herring break the surface from eighty feet below.
I am this hand skimming the water. I am these eyes dazzled by light.
I am you whom I loved before the seas were parted.
Sunday afternoons, she rolled off her stockings to cross beams girding my grandfather’s barn. She was fifteen and longed for something in the dark leafy boughs she couldn’t quite reach. Balancing on a hand-hewn rafter was nothing more than stepping out on a limb and the humid hour held its breath, the twittering sparrows fell silent. Dust shivered suspended as she passed through shafts of light austere as a coronation. This was before she coiled her braids under a covering and took her place in a kitchen with its slick checkered floor and the tick of a clock she had to rewind. For one immortal summer, girders hung taut as strings her steady feet could strum.