River Lament

by Trish Harris

Winter reeds, bone-gray, haunt a welcome
for the absent geese.
A figure in waders crotch-deep beneath the bridge
sends his line across the chill, waiting.
Hear the quiet hiss of fishing line
against the icy tumble of the Huron
and give me my life again.
Check the moist sandbank
for the indentation, the gap,
that matches my uprooting.
Replace me.

When I studied the river
as a friend studies her companion’s face
across a table in some dim cafe’
it murmured to me not of peace
but of escape and avoidance.
I remember the waterbreaks, the eddies,
the curves of the sandspits,
as they changed from moment to moment.
Memory becomes a surprise.

I roll over and smell your pillow
this second night you’ve not slept on it.
Moving water splits
to embrace the obstacles it passes.
I look between the pillows
for your hair,
for you in pieces.
Your foot was in the muck; I heard the slurp
as you lifted it to advance.
I darted toward you, past you,
back to myself.
Split. Return.

You are not here.
Even the Huron pushes its refuse
to the shore.
I realized things when you were away.
I later looked at you and remembered
but never said.
Trout eludes the fly, the hook, and rests
against the cool sheerness of the bridge’s
cold cold waterpolished smoothness.
I told you it would never last
and you said,
Thank you for telling me how you feel.

After sojourns in the Deep South, upstate New York, Colorado, and Baltimore, Trish Harris now teaches and writes in Michigan. She has poems forthcoming in The Cortland Review; and other poems have appeared in The Windsor Review, Way Station, and Poetry Motel. Her short fiction and creative non-fiction have been published in McSweeney’s online and Brevity.

Back to Issue Two: Winter 2009