Navigating by Water

Tell the creeks like beads,
the rivers like Pater Nosters whispered
along the walk from convent to school.
Red River, Hickory Creek, Caddo Creek
then the Honey Creek Pass.

In the Arbuckle Wilderness
whole cliffs slant sideways
mountains’ geometry defying
centuries and gravity, highway
ribbon an afterthought below

Precambrian granite towers
more than a thousand feet above
Honey Creek and the
Wild Horse.  Oklahoma burns
red in the July morning, unquenched

by silted giants: Washita River
Canadian, Cimarron. My father came back with
ochre in the stitching of his boots after
he buried his grandfather. Taught me
this color of cinnamon, his loss still

a tang upon my tongue. Meander past Black Bear Creek,
Salt Fork. Name again in the child’s voice those five
civilized tribes along the Chikaskia River.
Find within the river waters of the Arkansas
the threads of creeks:  Timber, and Rock, and Muddy.

Mark how the Little Walnut empties into the bigger
Walnut, stained from timbered stands only to return
less than a mile away to its smaller namesake.
North Branch, and Otter Creek, bisected now
by Fall River, Bachelor and Homer Creeks.

Smell home beyond the bankful Verdigris River,
Owl Creek, and the Little Osage. Ford the
Neosho River, and wade Deer Creek. Salute the
fawn along the South Pottawatomie, and finally,
welcome Middle Creek. From Texas to Kansas,
these fluid trails, my footsteps already gone.
By Pat Anthony


Pat Anthony’s website is middlecreekcurrents