Photographing Bushkill Creek
I’m sitting on the bank where you once stood
to photograph the creek the way you would
have on a day like this. You’d go knee-deep
to get a better shot; I’ll try to keep
my focus low, to catch the muddled sun
on wet brown rocks, the spines of trees, the one
white swan among the dozen beggar geese
you’d want to feed. I have no bread, their pleas
are desperate. I’m just as destitute. I take
a photograph of how this feels: the ache
of a missing father. But there is fire ahead;
I catch its flare up on the hill, smell the dead
leaves burning. I see a man as white as birch
that feeds the flames. He’s turned away to search
for me: the twig snap, the scent, the change I’ve made
to what was here before. I hide, try to fade
into the atmosphere. I want to be
as thin as air: his ghost, his memory.
Published online April 12 2016.
Jean Free lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and daughter. She holds an MA in Poetry from Johns Hopkins University, where she also works in undergraduate student affairs. Her poetry has appeared in publications including Sewanee Theological Review, The Raintown Review, The Rotary Dial, String Poet, The Three Quarter Review, and Think Journal.