by Maxine Scates

The River

I want to lie down in the river.
I know that's where sorrow is,
sorrow the name I gave to a dog
long after she was dead
because I forgot to feed her,
forgot to feed sorrow, to remember
she needed to be fed. The wild cherries
glisten in the sunlight, the crows
clatter overhead
and somewhere the woodpecker thrums a trunk.
I know I could pick strawberries on the road
to the river, bend in the dusty rows
reaching for them in that moment
before sweetness fades.

I know the raccoon
lies dead by the side of the road
readying me, or is it these days
when the iris blooms as I want it to,
when the cat sits perfectly on her corner
of the fence? I know the flocks of redwings
are waiting there. They flash in the trees.

I want to drift all day in the yellow raft
past the corn in the fields, past the island,
the sweet grasses on its bank. I'll feel
the cool water coursing against my back.
No, I know when Sam Cooke sings
This world with all of its allurements
I want to cry. I know most of what I feel
is the fault of something else, blessed singing
or those full glasses of wine
though maybe they only eased the way,
or maybe I wasn't feeling it yet,
I don't know.
I don't know how to say it
though the body would, full of its love
its joy.

I want to touch you.
I want you to touch me.
I want to lie down where your arms
will hold me, where the birds
are at work riding the half-drowning trees.

-from Black Loam. Appeared originally
in Crab Orchard Review