To a river behind a brand new dam, there's no good color.
The lake cowers beneath gray clouds.
Unlike wind (whittled stretches of hunger
misrepresenting stories of flood), rain remains optimistic.
Different kinds of water explain things differently.
When a glacier's melting, none of us argues:
we're huddled again in a trailer north of Colville
where it's May, and everyone's drinking beer.
Then it's a Saturday wedding with cases of champagne.
We're tented together on a small lawn
to toast an embarrassed groom and kids
sliding into a plastic pool. Grass clippings,
lately stuck to the bottoms of tiny feet, float belly up.
Reflected clouds growl with electricity.
Let the wind run me into the fields.
Let the fields open me.
Let everything stuck inside of me loosen at its own pace.
Let the prayer of pain. Let the loss of redemption.
Let quail fuss in the bushes.
Let the loose dogs of Spirit Lake Road
run me through the sleeve of breath
five miles home.
Let home be heart and heart home
like home used to be. Like light.
Let coyote run me. Let wind.
John Whalen is the author of Caliban and the chapbook Above the Pear Trees. His work can be found in EPOCH, The Gettysburg Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, most recently in Catamaran and Terrain, and forthcoming in the Hollins Critic.