Northern California, 1980
For standing at the state line marker
next to my younger sister
squinting against the sunrise
at what must have been my father.
For traveling picnic to campground
to finally arrive at my uncle’s cabin.
For believing the mountain stream
to be too cold then wading in
at the splashing beckon of my cousin.
For deeming the current too fast
then zig-zagging bank to bank
downstream through the widening roil
away from our parents, fixed
with their drinks. For the stance
that suggests the chill of easing
into shallow pools but doesn’t convey
the warmth of surrounding, sun-baked rocks.
For immersion. For a day inhabiting the body.
For bracing waist-deep along the rapids,
river tenting beneath my cupped,
twelve-year-old hands. For smiling above
a jag of underwater stones.
Bearing is underway. Pliancy is underway.
For the churn sparked by my fingers
etched upon the skin
of fading photo paper.