Cecily Parks

Little canoe, you
predict ripples, rapids, and pockets
of still water. The river bends

for you—along swallow-
perforated sandstone, past the cow skull flush
with lupine. Trembling,

the lens of your shadow
steals along the river bottom, through barbed garlands
of wire, over the ghost-quick

trout knifing up
from the darkness as if they would kiss your belly
were they not afraid.

Erosion surrounds us—
homesteads slump in the sagebrush, a rusted-out Studebaker
has come to the river

to drink, and you are,
against so many ticking cottonwoods
the only perfect shade

of green. Sleekest
waterborne creature—no matter
how many times

the river doubles
back on itself, balks at the salt of the sea—
little canoe, my body

is a hand
in your swaying hand—you hold me like someone
who knows how this will end.