To the boy in the green canoe:
You brought a hopeful fishing pole
down here to the iron river
and with eager hands cast out your line
to plumb the depths of a crystalline morning.
The whitewashed banks lower their brows
hungry for your disappointment.
Boy, your sweater is too large.
It covers your hands with handknit safety
and your chin with the smell of your father’s cigarettes.
Boy, your chest is too small to hold
your potential. Your eyes are Concho pearls.
Did you carry that boat on your back,
young man? Does it trail behind you always?
Do you carry it to school, canoe in one hand,
while the other grips an empty bucket
reserved for the day’s catch?
You are always ready, ready for a prize.
Boy, you cannot even see me up here,
merging with my park bench
in the fog – nor would I want you to.
You are the river, and her bounty is yours.
The whitewashed banks are disappointed
by your mastery, the relish and the fickle pride in a failure.
The morning is no less sweet without a fish.
Boy, you are the river, self-absorbed, eternal;
the banks cannot stand against you.
To the girl on the playground slide:
Your pudding thighs are full of sunshine
and you gleam through the fog.
Your bare feet leave optimism in the toes-splayed tracks,
spreading down the plastic chute.
Your fingers grip the bars, clenched teeth
gritted tight, latched fast to living.
Coal-dark eyes, you black sheep girl
with your red hair bow and your mockingbird laugh,
you own the playground.
There is a woman hiding in your infant eyes.
Wild Roma queen, the world sees you falling,
but I know you fly.