Sipsey by Cherryl E. Garner

He careened the blahbeige Chevy
through an essing curve, country high,
so he could screech those scrawny
needtoodamnmuchworkfor brakes.

His heart hammered, pounded roaring
o o o’s, outsonaring the sleeping owls.
He eyed lightning, toked his last wet joint
and flicked the roach to steaming concrete.

Sipsey River seeped just summer-sick around
slick boulders left of put-in, right of
Alabamafying bush - clapping yellow
soybeans low to purple stalking slash

of drying thistles. Green was all
worn thin. Lush had turned to near
leaf-fall. He was wilder than his perfect
hands could ever indicate.

She had watched as he’d ease curves
in common wood in buildings.
Ropes slung lasso loose from his canoe.
The trip had made her tilt to him

a wooing, moaning mammal.
He saw her as excess baggage,
could not shake her weird appeal.
Maybe he could drown her when

the river flowed feet deeper.
They both slid the boat from cartop,
launched its metal rudder midway
down from red clay creekside

into river’s long street, creeping. She drug
fingers in the water. Bottom stones looked
like mudpuppies. Poison snakes
dripped corkscrewed from the arching

oaks and skimmed across the water top,
viperous shadows cast along the bottom.
Single leaves fell from the branches, little yellow
leafy johnboats, turning them from blast

of August furnace to the mouth
of mindless Lethe.

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