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Migration, a poem by Jennifer Derksen



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.