On the Banks of the Mascoma

On the Banks of the Mascoma

The water pitched and plunged,
a foamy white swirling to
a froth on the dark rocks
drubbed smooth. You pulled
your hand from mine and went
to sit on a grassy ledge.
Let’s not talk, you said
and put your slender fingers to your lips.

I watched a crow burst into flight
and drank bourbon from the bottle
I carried in a paper bag.
The blue of the sky slurred
and a burning gold light
slashed the roiling river.

I wanted to press my ear
to your womb to understand what emptiness
kicked inside you. It was not
for us to hold a child in our arms
or to make the world our little room.

I lay down in the grass for only a moment
but when I woke, shivering, you were gone—
gone from the grass and the purple
wildflowers that dotted the bank,
gone from the slow-moving air,
gone from my hands and arms,
from the touch of my body. From the ledge

I saw the red sign of Kleen Dry Clean
and the cars swerving on 120
toward Longacres and Dulac’s Hardware.
I tried to remember all that we had
wanted to become when we imagined a future
as painless as sleep. Over and over
the river splashed against the rocks.
The longer I stared at them,
the smoother they became
and soon even they disappeared.