It Makes No Difference to the River
Beth Suter

It Makes No Difference to the River

Like the bright swallows flying low
            I can only skim my reflections
in the sky-mirrored stream, my face

becomes my mother’s or dream-
            daughter’s, there’s no girl-child
to someday see me looking back

no dark hair to braid with feathers.
            Is this the river of my mother’s protest
song or my grandmother’s gospel?

No telling—gonna lay down my burden
            down by the riverside

I never sang it to my son

though I don’t have a name for why
            he won’t see me in the mirror
why I spared him this rush.

Like the membrane of a cell, water
            forms skin for the Jesus-bug to skate on
the boundary between us that thin—

Beth Suter

studied environmental science at U.C. Davis and has worked as a naturalist and teacher. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she has contributed to Colorado Review, Barrow Street, DMQ Review, Poet Lore, and other magazines. Her forthcoming chapbook, Snake and Eggs, was chosen as a finalist in the 2021 New Women’s Voices Contest (Finishing Line Press).