The scent of wild onions is a compass point, 
cottonwood seed drift, the trail's
only blaze leading through shambling
raspberry thorn and sumac drupe 
to where some ancient snake lost this vestige leg
or left, at least, imprint of no small misstep. 
But water cannot hold more than one thought
for even a moment, and any violence or regret
is long forgotten.  This pool is troubled
only by an egret’s patient strides. 
Pale river wraith on reed-stalk legs,
she’s been hunting leopard frogs
along the shore, but halts beside a fallen log
barnacled with turtles.  She studies them,
lounging on their bellies in the sun, their
outstretched necks and legs inscribed
with yellow whorls.  In these, a keen eye
may perceive the cryptic map
of every path this water coursed before it rested
here, may read the legend signifying
even rivers sometimes lose their way.

David Oestreich lives in Northwest Ohio with his wife and three children. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Hobble Creek Review, Ruminate, Eclectica, and Chagrin River Review.

There is an oxbow (a former river bend now bypassed by the main flow) a short drive from my office, and I like to go there on my lunch hour or an occasional Sunday afternoon.  It is one of those natural features that suggests the panic of violence and the serenity of beauty may be artifacts of perspective.




Copyright 2009