Monday, January 5, 2015


Five of Wands

Immersing myself in the upper San Joaquin,
I flowed with the current, following
my brother to a rock wall 
on the other side. Suddenly I could see
                                                                     Flow with the current
about thirty people around the bend, 
all naked, lounging on a cliff, one
woman slouching down by herself.
I stared, unable to clearly make out 

her physical features. My brother suddenly
plunged back against the current, thrashing
until he reached the other shore. I remained,
gawking at naked men, one of whom

stumbled to the brink and gazed down
accusingly. I edged closer
to the strong, middle current,
suddenly sensing the swift water
                                                              Swim against the current
could pin me to the rock wall--
I would be swept down the river
if I slid out a tiny bit farther. Suddenly
my overwhelming desire to see, 

for the first time, a real naked woman--
vanished. I shouted to my brother--
two years older and stronger--
but he was gone or wouldn’t answer.

He had ditched me in precarious places
often before, and suddenly certain that he
had lured me out there, I sensed a current
of hatred so strong that it might be deadly.
                                                                         Flow with the current
As I inched along the slick rock, away 
from the main current, back to a safer point 
(where I could not climb out), I cursed him
over and over. Exhausted, nearly frozen,

with my last ounce of willpower, I flailed
through the water so wildly it probably
looked like I was trying to beat the river
to death, but I made it back. Emerging

from the water, I no longer thought
that my brother had intended to harm me--
just that currents can be so powerful
that they can drown you.

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