Skipping Stones

I didn’t want to tell you about my mistakes.
They sank like stones in the creek,
Skipping across the surface before that small plunk.
Smooth stones that fit the palm of my hand
Made no splash, sliding below the waters.
With each skip – One, two, three –
Sinking below the currents.  

Mother didn’t let me follow the creek down to the river,
The Little Miami meets the Ohio in unexpected excitement.
Here, between sharp shale walls,
I waded in, built dams with slate slabs and gray clay
that stuck to my hands and hid crawfish
in clouds kicked up by as I shuffled my feet.  

I kissed a boy in that ravine – he kissed me too  

Where the dark water pooled
Below the collapsed culvert.
The smell stuck to my skin, my hair, my nails
Even after the blue bathtub
And my mother’s soaps and laminations .  

I was the girl next door.
We laughed and played children’s games,
Slid down the hill in cardboard boxes.
Summer could not hold us.  

I remember the curl of his lip
And how surprised I was by his gentleness.
The feel of it stayed with me
On my mouth, my cheek, my neck  

Even after the blue bathtub.