At the edge of town —
A small stream
I visit often —
It flows to the river that cuts
Through the city we live in,
Adding its own identity to the strong,
Green ribbon that threads a course
Not fifteen minutes from my house.
I do not fish this creek;
I visit to hear what it has to say
With each change of seasons,
Every freeze and thaw, every heavy rain.
It speaks with the silty accent
Of the rich Palouse, stories of spring runoff,
Fresh from tilled fields ready for new wheat;
It sings of late May hatches of midge and caddis,
The new drone of young summer grasshoppers.
This creek knows when the redband
And the cutthroat come; it knows
Because the voices within its own,
The boulders and the stones,
The cobble and the sand,
Can be heard again, no longer overpowered
By frenetic rush of melt and swollen banks.
This creek, in the last half mile it is truly itself,
Before becoming a verse in a larger song,
Moves inexorably closer
To its own end — its own release.
Quicker through the final riffles,
One last bend and drop,
And I hear the closing notes
That ring with new yellow sunlight,
Longer, warmer days,
And the lasting promise
Of living, moving water.
Andy Lang lives in Spokane, with his wife and three children, and teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Lewis and Clark High School. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University.