Listen to the poem below:
We’re almost to the territory when the river takes our wagon.
Also swept downstream: two fine horses harnessed to it, the team
I’d planned to break the ground with on our homestead claim.
Susannah stands dripping on the bank, reaching for a fallback notion
that fits with the loss of provisions. She’s the brains in this operation.
The bad call to ford it here, that choice is on me. I know without it being said.
But the hands that plucked the children from the top of the rapids—
those were my hands. So maybe she’ll be able to forgive. Susannah at the start
of her Summer Years era, momentarily despairing, wringing river water
from her garments. Though pained by the disaster, she’s no quitter.
I sit huffing ‘til I can breathe clear. Then it’s time to make the miles
on foot. Slow progress is still considered progress,
even if our furnishings tumble to the Gulf of Mexico.
TODD MERCER won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry (2016), the National Writers Series Poetry Prize (2016) and the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award (2015). His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in 100 Word Story, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Literary Orphans, The Magnolia Review, Split Lip Magazine and Star 82 Review.