Elk River Sky

do you remember?
leaning back in Elk River sky,
stars dripping through riverside
sycamores at noon, mud
washing off my feet, your
hand just beneath my
five-year-old back, as if you
held a leaf aloft for the wind,
i tried to ignore river-god’s
blood running into corners
of my mouth, knowing we
were near enough to shore,
with the main current years
away on my right, that you
& the river both knew me,
knew i had to learn to arch
my back & relax all at once,
that to struggle meant death,
that to float meant at least
i could always see the sky.