river image

In Shallows of the Brazos

Walt McDonald

We taught our children to swim, swing out on ropes
and jump, trusting oak limbs to hold them
until they let go, the Brazos muddy enough to walk on.

Home was our children, cattle and cactus, our parents
who died, leaving heirlooms and Grandfather's ranch.
Decades went by like the Brazos, river of the arms of God.

Last month, after chemo, I stripped to my trunks
on a sandbar. Lay down by my wife in the shallows,
on sand sinking slowly beneath us. Reached out

and touched her, eyes closed, enough to be close
after sixty. Felt water lapping my neck, my ears,
the river a big cat sniffing and licking,

saving the best for later. Years ago, our children
all walked away without beds, picking up
where their parents began before children,

when we lay back in the shallows exhausted,
outrageously young and blessed, eyes closed
on Grandfather's ranch on the Brazos,

enough after love to touch hands in the river
and listen, our ears underwater, long before war
or worries, no cancer, no madness anywhere.

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