the night my brother was born
i dreamt that father met me beside the river.
the current heaved along the banks
and the water grazed his thighs
and i called out but it made no difference.
a thousand years later, stranded upon
i came to with algae in my hair.
fisherman watched me appraisingly.
their dogs pulling back their lips
in a snarl.
their wives with bare feet and
stained aprons gutting fish into the sunset.
the sky stared into me impassively
swollen with its own significance and
i was a waterlogged thing.
the river by this time
had gone brown with summer plumes.
sat mute beneath the willows and cottonwoods
intoxicated by wolfsbane
i watched the glittering surface.
a woman stared back at me
the curve of some anatomy dark against
the sinking sun.
her fishes tail and maritime grace
spiked beneath the waterline.
i called to her and she turned to bark.
river sirens do not bother with singing
in the land that i am from.
they leave that to the yearning.
it is enough.