I speak for the river,
the flooded river with a belly of mud and of roots inside the belly
that like to coil around the hairless ankles of children
and hold them down under the water until they are born again or until
they learn to breathe in water.
I speak for the one I love, spread wide as a delta fan at the mouth of the river.
I sing only for the river
of pin oak trees washed away in heavy rainfall, carried on their backs
with morning doves still nested in the branches,
until they meet a dam they cannot breach without luck
or a kind of grace that can’t be paid for.
The one I love is the estuary where river and Gulf flood into one another.
There are wounds still sore after a thousand years,
pus filled and seeping,
that can only be cleansed and healed by the salt water of the Gulf.
Three years later you can’t find a scar.
But there is someone living inside us who cannot survive
who cannot breathe in a wide expanse of water that tastes like tears
even if they be the tears of joy.
We swim until we grow too weak to hold back the very substance
we are made of.
Then we are washed away. Then we are gone.
I know only what I am told by the river and often not even that.
But you are the Estuary.
Your hair that once was golden, now is a silvery braid of river water and of Gulf.
As long as the One I love has a face, my face will be hers
and her face will also be hers.