In the time before she swallowed fear,

the chubby little barefoot girl
traipsed triumphantly down
the center of The Fork.
Stomping in cold shallow waters
and lying on the rocks in the 
summer sun she fingered through 
pebbles and shells in search of
fossilized trilobites and crinoid rings –
jewels for her looted collection. 
She was the queen of the creek.
It would take years and bruises,
to teach her not to marvel too closely 
at the mossy green rocks that danced
in the shifting slants of light
but concealed jagged sharp edges
just beneath the surfaces.
Her steps learned hesitation 
and to pause before being struck by 
hidden snakes whose only agenda
was being hidden snakes.  
Her hands grew timid to learn
what waited buried in the dirt and silt
and the dark pools.
And without a word or a way back,
the girl left The Fork for a more solid road.