For The First Time
On clear days it rains buckets,
swelling the headwaters
and the algae blooms gluttonous.
Rufous clay breaks into wider trenches
and the towhee flashes away.
You never flinched when I crushed your hand
on that first day on the humped rise before a charging
buffalo sun, gnat swarming my wild panicked eyes,
giddy with each hill blue upon bluer receding.
I'm a woodland kid, baby, creek crouching
with roots and canteens of sassafras
in the leopard light and leafmold;
the wannabee Tarzan swinging
on wintercreeper vines.
I'm the scurrying rat in the stormdrain,
taking the shortcut home for supper.
But there you were, straight as loblolly pine
in the canyon lands of Chicago, prairie drifted
in with the drifters and the hawk winds
of winter to find the woodland kid dragged
blind before the gridiron sky.
Two rivers led nowhere, two rivers
and a chance confluence of running
merged and pooled in a one bedroom cave
on Belmont, hatching our tadpole dreams,
fattening the swimmers with mustard greens
and gaudy hotdogs.
When we crested the banks,
on the continental divide,
one to the woodland, one to plains,
the water ran as waters do,
and as in each great story,
the boy follows the girl,
to the humped rise before
the charging buffalo sun,
where you held my pink hand
and I saw the sky for the first time.