We explored the creek that
meandered through our yards
as if we had discovered it
ourselves, wandering along its bed,
navigating its twists and turns
until we learned where its water
moved fastest, where it trickled,
where its stones jutted out,
forming steps for us to cross
from one side to the other,
and when we knew it perfectly,
we rolled our pants, tossed
our dirty socks and worn sneakers
and waded through it,
lifting rocks to catch crayfish
and scooping up salamanders
shrouded in the cool mud.
In winters, we stomped along
its frozen gray surface like giants,
cracking the ice with our heavy steps,
or slid clumsily on the thicker
patches behind the McCabe’s house.
One day, you fell through,
shattering it, and when you got up,
tears streaming down
your chubby child cheeks,
you turned to me,
exclaiming it was my fault,
that a true friend wouldn’t
just stand by, so to ease your pain,
I lay in the frigid creek,
in the exact spot where you had fallen.
Robin Rosen Chang, a native of Philadelphia and a former graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, lived in many places before settling in New Jersey ten years ago. She is an adjunct professor of English as a Second Language at Kean University. Her work has appeared in the NaPoWriMo online poetry anthology and A Handful of Stones literary blogzine, and is forthcoming in The Stillwater Review.