In the Shade by the Water
–for my daughter
Our sorrows meet in one shadow, one
stream, like the ravine creek we’d follow
when you were small. I’m back
there in my daydream, your hand in mine
under the tall summer trees, still cool
midday on the path along our little river,
you crouch over slugs, stroke the moss
coats on the earth and alder trunks, talk
silk architecture among the spiders,
squawk with the crows as they laugh
at their own jokes. Eternally cool here
below the sun-cooked bungalows.
Home we’d walk from, it’s no more.
I left you, let the screen door swat
the jamb as I strode off alone, years before
you could leave too. Left you in that quiet
cavern, floor bared of my Persian rugs,
fridge groaning its hunger from inside
the kitchen. Over the spent wine bottles,
fruit flies in clouds like ghosts of roses
I’d brought you and Mom. Your welcome
to a new loneliness. I wouldn’t let myself
see it then. Now you’re across town,
a run-down shared rental, more life in it,
more laughter. You’ve had me there
once. Here, in the shade by the water
where both our sorrows flow, you step
out of your shoes, as you would, to wade.
I still don’t know how to atone.
Your feet slip into the cold on the stones.