Down on the Brazos, brown Brazos
Laugh! – and feel the mud between your toes.
Where last week’s flood rippled, an empty can
And an engine hood lie rusting in the sand.
Next week or next year, these parts will
move downriver, the piece of broken china,
the half burned milk carton, the used Band-Aid,
until finally all the scraps are brought down
to the sea in some reduced form, though
a hundred thousand years may pass until
waves on beaches complete the work.
Tonight we burn dry willows and jump
the ring of fire, we drink cheap beer and
watch dying sparks dance in fitful breezes
across the river’s waters. We listen to
the rush of rapids and churning whirlpools
gnawing breaks in shallow banks. Later
in the night, when laughter turns to dust,
when the Brazos sings ancient songs and
the scent of stale smoke lingers, we
listen fearfully and wait for a warming sun
to return, we tremble and feel ourselves
slipping downstream toward the great,