Here is the stone I bring today. Its edges are smooth
and its anger forgotten. I offer it with both hands.
I took the long way, stopped to look down a boulevard
plucked clean of all its trees. Emerald ash borers.
Don’t let me become them, their cruel specific slaughter.
Grant me discernment, the willingness to preserve.
Yesterday I noticed I was whistling.
Let me relish this restoration of absentminded music,
let my trust grow back like lilacs after deadheading.
Help me nourish it with mindful and benevolent care.
I’m safe now. I will be safe where I’m going.
Help me know these things. Grant me firm belief
in best intentions despite the evidence I hold.
Take this stone, these steps as the first of this new work.
Take them as gently as you did our fireboat vigils, our friends
and their names in the dark.
River, advocate of the drifting lost, let me forgive.
River, pilot of the gone before, help me forgive.
ON THE THIRD NIGHT IN MY NEW HOUSE IT RAINS FROM THE DINING ROOM CEILING
A stock pot serves well under what looks like flickering soot.
The shape of a little boat, or is it a train and a bridge?
No matter. You liked both. Either way we are to ruin.
Either way we know you die a slipping moon under old water.
No matter. I have trapped grief in these hands before.
I’ve held it young, writhing for want
of breath. My grief for you, the gleying blue husk of a thing
comfortable in its age, is not so much trouble to hold.
It’s funny really, when I drop the pot: flood I tried to prevent,
slap of my left hand on the wet floor like a dying fish.
I take stock of it all remembering one of our days by the lake.
There was a tugboat pulling a rig, its deck oil-slick and red
in the noon glare, the waves of its wake with the same dead
fish slap reaching us on the pier. I followed your hand
to a fluke slung on its side. The wrong kind of anchor, too small
for its task. I try to remember, as I lay down a towel, if I saw it:
the two of us anchored to each other by chance,
one not enough to keep the other from drifting.
MOLLY BROWN lives in Columbus, OH. Her work appears in Crab Creek Review and Word Riot.