Christopher Martin

Stoneroller in the Hiawassee

Late August, I sit with my son
at the shallow edge of the Hiawassee,
our legs covered in its cold flow,
watch him throw rocks as I wield
a plastic net he got in his Happy Meal,
try to catch a tiny fish reeling
in water that laps our shadows,
our bodies barricades to the current,
our limbs filtering the river as willows
the light.          The stoneroller slips
downstream with each reach, each
lunge I make with the shoddy net.
My son watches for its return,
this creature the size of my thumb,
scales patterned like stones in silt.
Soon, it swirls within the plastic sieve
I pour into my son’s hands, flips
in his palms before it falls, spirals
to an ever-shifting ecotone
where the Hiawassee splits stones,
spits pebble shards like broken teeth.  
You and me, my boy, until our bodies
bear the patterns of this place, until we gasp
in the palms of giants, until we return
to this water that binds our stories like blood.  

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