DEEP GAP CREEK
We were walking along the crick, on top of it, the water low, the stones dry and right for stepping, thinking of ticks and diseases and longing to be home, here or someplace like it, mountainous, but these mountains were too many, too big, too sky-bruising for a boy from Florida and a girl from Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Iran.
Both of our hearts moseyed up to Virginia where the hills looked like something a life could climb. New York was for money and taking a beating and eating the old dishes whose recipes have disappeared from their lands. Toughing it so the knees wouldn’t complain when they finally sunk into dilapidated gardens. A farmer’s a good thing but no replacement for a carrot you just pulled to share.
Cinnamon Addie ran from bank to bank delighting in the Labradetter scent-scape our noses would never comprehend. We wanted to ask her: What do our hands tell you of our lives? How do you know when a place wants you stop and roll in the grass? To pick that plot and belong? Is it any coincidence that when pain descends, you show up and it thaws? Why the musty corners of everything? Is old pee really so magnificent?
We crawled up the bank. Addie acquiesced for a treat. Were your feet bare? I want now, as I wanted then, to rub them, run my thumb along the instep, squeeze the diminutive heel. What is it about mountains that gives a boy of beaches and a girl of cornfields the sense of a common dream? But small ones. The kind that fit in the view from the kitchen window, one doing dishes, the other drying.
The kind that remind you of each in the other, two hearts where one was, and why stop there— the kind that remind you of the earth in your heart without blocking out the light.
About the Author
Born in Florida, educated at Columbia University, Ricky Ray’s recent work can be found in The American Scholar (blog), Matador Review, Fugue, Lodestone, Sixfold, and Chorus: A Literary Mixtape. His awards include the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize and Katexic’s Cormac McCarthy prize. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, three cats and a dog; the bed is frequently overcrowded.