Stepping

When I go to places

The seaside

I am already leaving there

Rehoboth Beach

More water than sand

More sky than water

Bones of fish laid bare

A new tableau each morning

Tides take back

All that they lay down

Washing me to white

To bold

To bright

A seagull screams just once

And dissolves in my skull

Naked sun

She milks my pupils

Opalescent to blind

At dawn

I see dead birds

Banking fast from clouds

My cousin Eddie

Arc of his returning boomerang

A spinning, skimming whir

Over the green, the coppery

Glossy mallards

Old pennies for heads

Pumpkin orange feet

Folded under what floats and bobs

At the edges of Camp Brule Lake

Startled flock rising

Quaking the water lilies

Seesaw tipping frogs into leaps

A melee of flaps and squawks

My cousin Vernon now

Boomerang two

Not returning

Arm bent back as an arrow to its bow

One unlucky heartbeat

Twirling into tailspin

A roped corpse to splash

So boys can cheer

And echo echo echo

I am already returning

To Camp Brule Lake

Spilling into Elk Creek

Who pauses and changes her clothes

The Flat

Expanse of silt and limestone

Red shale and watercress

Big enough for two pickups

Nature’s Car Wash

In between cascades

A waterfall at the top

A waterfall at the bottom

Liquid chimes

Teacups resting in their saucers

On top of a walking tray

Treed place

Entombing the cold pools

Where fish can stand still

I step across The Flat

To the other side

Soles on the same level parts of the same stones

Nine steps

I’ve made it

The slippery silt covers me

Cloaked in branches and tangle

Caught without my own feet at the seaside

I dissolve into backgrounds brushed and shaded

Into the shadows of the places who know me

 

by Virginia Watts

 

Virginia Watts has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently in Ruminate Magazine’s Readers’ Notes and her nonfiction story “Marti’s Father” appears in Volume 1, Issue 2 of Ponder Review, Fall 2017. This story has been nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.

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