I sit on the porch with my morning coffee
watching a flock of birds migrating, a
river path carrying them through the small
woods across the street, their constant chatter
hushed only by the sudden woosh of wings as they
ride the wave to the next cluster of trees.
I think about the river, the Nolichucky,
we rafted down this summer with my sister,
my family and hers. When she was falling
out of the boat, the world slowed to indecision.
Was it was safer to grab her and risk us both
or let her go into the river, lifejacket around her
neck? She told me that a woman died on that
river, later, after we were dry and home and the
Nolichucky was pasted into our scrapbooks.
I come inside to the kitchen, turning on the
radio to hear a poet say "to be human is to
risk." I set my mug on the counter next to a pile of
masks, worn and washed. I fold and stack them in the
basket by the door, a pile of life jackets. Outside my
window, I see the bird river stretching on,
flowing and stopping, following some unseen way.
Jennifer Derksen is an Indiana native and resident seeking to notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.