A skinny face and skinny neck.
Two old boots at the foot of his bed.
Leather soles worn skinny too.
Quiet in his room.
A car driving the highway across the pasture
sounds like someone breathing
next to him.
A restful sleep
with deep, complacent breaths.
A contented feeling
foreign to his skinny
Old boots on his feet now.
Pointed toe-box muddy from standing at the shore of this Swamp.
Murky, black water like an oil slick.
A stand of bald cypress rooted in the muck.
Shiny surface of the pond like a mirror makes the trees look as deep as they are tall.
Their trunks just above the water’s surface look stretched.
The way skin looks when pulled too far from the bone.
A breeze barely felt
makes the black pond try lapping at his feet
the way someone curls their finger
when they want you closer.
But he steps back so it can’t.
With that muddy, pointed toe-box
a pinecone, fallen from a loblolly nearby.
Ripples on the pond’s surface now
bend the reflections of
the bald cypress stand.
When the ripples dissipate
and the reflections return,
he says, audible only to
“I knew you weren’t that deep.”
Getting sunny now, the early morning chill starting to
Making way for afternoon.
The quiet room still quiet.
The bed unmade.
Old, skinny-soled boots gone now.
A car drives the highway across the pasture.
Poem by Kevin Wayne Zerbe
Kevin Wayne Zerbe is a writer and ecologist. His work is the welcomed burden of flowing water, cold hands, conservator of natal streams. A life in the field is what he writes. The bodies of he and his wife are lost now in a megalopolis, but their hearts and souls roam the hidden valleys of the Northern Rockies.