From the culvert’s eroded arch
we leaned out above our shadows
trying to see
the sodden glimmer of fish,
fat, floating and still,
pondering all that passed,
taking their dense breath out of the same
rain water that ran down the roof
we slept under.
Everything washed out
of our neighborhood
ended up in the creek.

Open safety pins,
stolen from our mother,
impaled pearls of stale bread as bait
at the end of thick, white string.

We imagined our lines snagged
on the decayed corduroy coat
that had held down the drowned boy
everyone in town heard about but no one knew
as he was pulled along and out of our world,
running away the morning of the storm
instead of going to school.

We knew each hook was really lost
to fallen branches
because they gave
a little but pulled back
just before the string broke.
Rock wouldn’t give at all.

With their tails already shorter
and legs just beginning
we could easily catch tadpoles by hand.
Spots, purple like engine oil on a puddle,
grew across their backs and bellies
before they died in a bucket
in the shadow behind the shed.


Published in Cold Creek Review (Issue No. 5, March 2018) which currently seems to be offline.