Tired of counting places I usually
slipped out of town a year too late. I settled
where the slow twining creek turns clay

brown & ripples through the wildwood
like a wedding train. I tired
of counting places, so I turned

to stable shelter, prayed to tame my gypsy
course, marked the proper names & studied
the slow twining creek’s slick bottom.

Burrowing mayfly, speckled Hellbender,
Alabama cavefish. Their lacy-jelled
eggs trembled, while I counted their places

under river rock & branch. Wet stony sand
& storm-brown water rolled over me like a wand
& in the slow twining creek I transformed

to slick-shelled mussel. Nudged by grit
& river junk, cradled by mud, I spit
pearls from trouble & now count my place
in the slow twining creek’s slack embrace.