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.