photo: ralph murre
by Richard Merelman
Whenever we get together, my sister goes on
about the beauty of rapids, puddles, ripples. She speaks
of a thunderstorm that announces a rainbow
or of a sprightly trout run behind her barn. If a cold autumn
kills her young sycamore, it doesn’t matter
because the stream remains a fisherman’s paradise.
During droughts, the brook becomes a rivulet connected
, where she and her husband
spend Lake Oneida
the summer months. My sister welcomes
thaws as water scrawls, calls a drop of water
courageous for opening an ice dam to light.
She refers to
as vapor prayers, to runnels hot springs
as infant waterfalls, and to a month of drizzle
as an April shower. Water-soaked Communion wafers
she describes as doubly holy. Lovely enough stuff,
while a few yards from my cabin on this slough of the
silt and slime and sludge congeal into a beige paste
that settles behind abandoned backwater shacks.
Last week I wrote my sister about the snapping turtle I found
upside-down at the edge of a jetty, claws gnawed, stomach
gutted by hovering buzzards. The odor of the swamp
across the road causes my eyes to water. Marsh grass
strangles lily pads that used to float on the surface.
Three miles north, the river unfolds into a pastel fan. But here
the channel narrows, slackens, spawns a greasy sheen.
Every Easter I vow to visit a pastor. Always, a sheath
of fog sets down, like a swarm of black flies.
I could drive through the darkness to Mass,
though, as I tell my sister, I never go. When she asks me why,
I remember the bloated carp in the shallows. It’s the things I see, I say.
~ first published in Verse Wisconsin