To the Girl Who Can Hear the River Talk
Karen J. Weyant

To the Girl Who Can Hear the River Talk

You were born the year of a sudden spring melt,
of a heavy rain that pulled the river from its banks.

Your mother, seven months pregnant with you,
waded through water up to her thighs, wrestled

with garden ornaments and the bicycle your brother
left out on the front lawn overnight.

Even then, you protested by kicking, your tiny feet
doing more pounding than fluttering.

Now, you smell flood waters before the waves swell:
faint sulfur mixed with the moist dirt of a new garden.

You hear the water before it spills, before it rushes
towards West Main, lifting up swings at the park,

tossing around toy buckets in backyard sandboxes,
washing through the first floors of homes

and soaking carpets and furniture, leaving dark puddles
and debris in all the cracks and corners.

You know the river is angry, even before the water swirls
around the old trucks in Old Sam Johnson’s backyard,

before it floods Suzy’s Bar & Grill, slurping at floorboards
and barstools and torn screens in the doors.

While everyone else listens to the rage after the water rolls
well above flood stage, you can hear how the river

quietly curses before it crests, its muted voice,
Enough, enough, enough, a whisper in the air.

Karen J. Weyant

has contributed poetry and prose to The Barn Owl Review, Caesura, Cold Mountain Review, Poetry East, Storm Cellar, River Styx, Waccamaw, and Whiskey Island. Her most recent collection of poetry, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, won Main Street Rag’s 2011 chapbook contest and was published in 2012. She teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.