On the Outskirts

From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.


On the Outskirts

Cold in rings stacked around my ankles,
the water surrounds my skinny bird legs
covers up my long narrow feet.
Easy to see, those feet are
I watch them
stepping along the muddy bottom of the creek
but they might as well be on the moon.
The world below the water’s surface
is a dream
Wading is practical
because I need to breathe.
The river is private property
reserved for residents and that will never be me.
That this rock under my foot
can survive in a place that will kill me and a rock
that doesn’t even have a brain to have figured it out
it just sits in the water and
lets the water flow over
lets itself get smoothed out and
the wrinkles vanish
opposite of me whose wrinkles
proliferate. No, I’m earthbound like that tree on the bank
split by a storm
bent over splinters sticking up
taking my time to disintegrate.
My roots are sunk in the mud
but still

I like to think
at least they are drinking the same cold water
as this that the creek
swirls around my bird legs


4 thoughts on “On the Outskirts

  1. Great poem. I love the idea of the water being the thing that connects each element of the poem, that is the basis of this ecosystem you describe, and is the thing that endures; and I like that the water then contrasts to the transitory life of the bird – and of the human observing the scene.

    • Thank you. I love the way you have explained the water aspect of it. It is something I always feel but can’t articulate. For me being in the water is like flying or floating in another dimension and I imagine myself a water creature, part of the liquid. Even wading or boating or anything like that is participating. It sounds kind of “airy” but it’s an enduring thing you can also get to the inside of, I feel.

Comments are closed.