Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Drowning Creek by Ada Limón

Drowning Creek

Past the strip malls and the power plants,
out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road
and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek,
there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where
I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year,
the Belted Kingfisher, crested in its Aegean
blue plumage perched not on a high nag
but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek
for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were
driving fast back home and already our minds
were pulled taut like a high black wire latched
to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car
to take a closer look at the solitary stocky water
bird with its blue crown and its blue chest
and its uncommonness. But already we were
a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher
by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed.
People were nothing to that bird, hovering over
the creek. I was nothing to that bird that wasn’t
concerned with history’s bloody battles or why
this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name
I love though it gives me shivers, because
it sounds like an order, a place where one
goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call the creek
that name. The bird doesn’t call it anything.
I’m almost certain, though I am certain
of nothing. There is a solitude in this world
I cannot pierce. I would die for it.

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