Blog Project Day 102: At the River Ouse
When she stops, the woman builds and unbuilds cairns.
There are long breaths when the stones rest
in the great pockets of her skirt patient as tumors.
They are smooth, cool, innocent. As she walks
her body yearns toward the river. The stones
anchor her to the damp earth, each footstep
an elegy. Sometimes she takes a flat stone and
rests it on her tongue, ballast against the ache
of water on her skin. As she walks, the damp
seeps from her thin wandering body into
the waiting earth. Here by the river’s seam
words are skittish as the marsh birds
her flight startles into the air. Her by the
river’s edge, she persists. Sometimes
the stones trail behind her, pardoned one
by one. A map. A pilgrim’s prayer. If she
gets far enough away she can read them
like tea leaves, a Braille admonishment
or invocation. She cradles a stone in her palm,
that palm outstretched toward the water,
wondering the river’s word for sacrifice.