Honorable Mention: 2020 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
Where your brother went, a river met him at the shadow’s edge, a river he walked on
we cannot see, though it flows near us and all the small fish you can imagine wait, circling as if on a merry-go-round until he toes in; and it is then they feel his small steps, each vibration a plated splash and they rise: blue gills, pygmy puffer fish, black mollies, orange clowns, all clamber, making for him a path.
He is not alone. Every step he takes, a fish takes its place underfoot, each fish a finned rock holding him as he walks so that your brother who cannot swim begins to hopscotch, sinking ever so slightly and then popping up, the fish under him shimmering like landing lights; in the dimpling water, the kiss of stars where he treads. He twirls and looks back; his arms spread wide beckon us, but the shore he left is fogged and fading.
Now he is distant and small, but in the vanishing I see him crawl into fins and scales
and become one of them, joyous and teeming. He has learned a new way to live and here inside us, who are mostly water, when you least expect it, you will shiver
and feel him.
Jane C. Miller’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She received first prize in Naugatuck River Review’s 11th annual narrative poetry contest. A fellowship recipient from the Delaware Division of the Arts, Miller is co-author of the collection, Walking the Sunken Boards published by Pond Road Press (2019).