Sandusky, 4 AM

In the half dark of early morning
my mother loops our clothesline
through her belt,
knots the other end
around my waist
and leads me
through the wet grass,
over rocks
and moss–
our feet
slipping as we
climb the pier
where she will fish
until the sun
becomes oppressive.

I am three then,  four at most,–
too innocent to protest a rope
or whatever else
would moor me to her,
or to understand
because she cannot
swim
her fear of losing me
gets complicated.

Instead, I
swirl my hand
inside the bucket of minnows
until I’m dizzy
and count the carp
that flash and disappear like gold medallions
between the rushes;
but when the sun
casts beads of light
onto the water
like a rosary
I pray for time
to catch me in its net,
lift me quickly
into the boat of evening.

-From Fresh Water: Women Writing About the Great Lakes

-all rights reserved

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