S.B. Merrow

River Song

It was like this family to choose this day
		to tell their baby not to stare 
		at the fiery disk and meeting
their dreams on a sunny shore 
borders behind them—the memory of
		a sudden braking car
		threats spilling from a window—

when the river rode at the top of its banks
muddy puddles rippling with wind
and colored by passing clouds 

		took the solitary stony path 
held his daughter who couldn't swim 
waded into the yellow flood
a growing pallor on his skin
		like someone I once met
		who drowned in 'seventy two

the toddler clung to a fistful of shirt—
he would have wanted to have more time
to wash away the filth and blood 
		to embrace the river with open arms
		and wave the flag of love berserk
when every so often he'd stumble slip tighten his grasp 
on her weedy limbs—this I saw— 

they'd learned the lessons of chaos before
breast to breast with a raving world
		the river's voice consumed her cries
the child his kite in an upended sky.