Someone is the Water
BY AUSTIN ARAUJO
—for my mother
I am alone but for this vein
of water splitting the earth open
and we are silent, the stream and I
far away from our mouths. The stream
folds over and over itself, my hand
speculating under the surface.
The stippled faces of orioles
sail by slowly, their dark wings working
hard as tired men pulling oars
in a landscape painting, their lantern
chests dotting a modest pattern
across the sky, over this brook
a mile from your house—from you
who are alone but for your sons
and your sons’ refusal to recognize
you cloaked under a sadness,
the color of whose cloth muted
as these late-afternoon birds.
The stream sluices crawdads
and stones, carefully takes its bend
like a tongue spackled with canker sores.
I still expect it to speak. I’ve come
here to listen to this slow
unfurling of water, hoping I’ll fall
asleep as it turns like a lullaby
a child promises he will strain
to hear, to memorize, and make sense
of smudged pastoral visions.
Gone, the birds long gone.
Palms, I cup the water in bent palms.