“Nod Brook” By Cynthia Anderson

The narrow brook below our hill
was a place of dreams where nothing

ever happened—sleepy remnant
of another time, murky water barely

moving—deeper after winter snows,
ebbing as lady slippers bloomed pink

under pines planted as a watershed.
Old oaks stood close by, and a swamp

where I picked wild grapes, holding
my nose against the stink of skunk

cabbage. I tried to follow the brook
where it dissolved into swamp,

but it would not be followed,
nor reveal its secrets—

Once I saw a turtle near broken
pilings, concrete and iron, all

that survived of a bridge, where
a faded track led east and west,

disappearing as I grew older—
One cold day a premonition

pulled me down, and I ran, angry,
crashing through thickets until

I found the source—a clearing
littered with feathers, a killing field

by the water. My innocence fled
as though my hair had been shorn—

and I left the brook for good,
awake.


Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

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