Chinook Laughter


You are drenched in snapping turtles and sagebrush from
this morning’s scraping of tadpoles and trout
from your bench-land pond.

His boat is far from you, but it is
still too early in the day for coyotes,
too late in spring for bears; the wind is low.
The deer are forgiving and will leave you to
draw paths in the sand and dream of
your own fish one day.

This is easy here. Clear.
Dry heat waving, pine seeping.
Yellow flowers lurk in the whistling grass,
in his paddle back to shore
where brined chinook dribbles down your chin
and quartered oranges spurt laughter
over both your clothes. You can’t
imagine ever living this alone.

When he dies you fall
barefoot bleeding; heart bound
to the prickly-pear, exposed in the wild rye,
long before you were seasoned to know.

Holding his fish alone, you tie your
own flies and cast a rocky line
whipping hesitant, skipping muddy,
over sunrise glass water.

Oh little one; you don’t know it yet
but the light will break clean:
it will one-day rise gentle holding you
soft in hot-summer sand.

(me with my papa-age 3)

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