Every boy is ancient & a river is as much a body as it is a pair of hands. Who holds the blade that fails against the rush? What within the boy dissolves every trace of violence? The river speaks a name & a soft halo of sun hovers over steel. The sun is gentle on the boy’s face. Which is preferred? That each dawn be new light or the same light remerged for centuries. Strange metaphor for a resilient self. Even the wind appears reckless in its bloom-scattering tantrums yet when a boy drowns, we never think to ask if the river meant to do it. The river is but river stretching on for miles & the boy returns home a small god walking through fields. Until, there is no more light. Until, the stakes of the ritual are so high the river can only mourn itself. The brain placed back inside the stomach & a pair of new hands folded over a corpse. How does the boy come to know himself now? Whose name does he cry out over the wide, rippling shoulders of the living? Mine, yours, his own, the troubled sun’s—for whom does it even matter?
Susan L. Leary is the author of Contraband Paradise (Main Street Rag, 2021) and the chapbook, This Girl, Your Disciple (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in Cherry Tree, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Pithead Chapel. She teaches Writing Studies at the University of Miami.