A Summer Prayer

A Summer Prayer

With evening mist I perch on a blackened
and blasted boulder
at the confluence. The river’s psalm incants
the flesh of the spirit, the dance
of the extinct. Dust of acorns
survives in bedrock holes
with the dying thunder,
with the first breath.

I plunge into a bitter pool
of the north fork,
my pulse quickens—a single thought
escapes like trout, like flecks of gold.
Blood departs the arms and legs
for the heart. Inner tides release
uncertainty to the extremities.
longing that flares out of reach.

The river choreographs how I change,
how I abide
when the current takes me.

I stroke hard toward the bank
and rise like an icy moon
along the forgotten path.

William O’Daly

Excerpted from The New Gods Beltway Editions, 2022