River Mink

Rebecca Lehmann

The afternoon arrives, cloaked in the vellum
              of crow song, and uses the river
                           to approximate hypnosis.

I spent all day watching for the mink
              to skirt between ice-sheets,
                           but I only saw the tracks she left,
              like an alien child’s handprints.
I’d been in the snow nine days.

Remember when your sister fell
              on the ice and knocked
                           her front tooth out?
Your mother kept it in a glass of milk.

Across the river, I could see
              you perfectly.
Blood filled the pouch of your
              sister’s mouth, drizzled
                           a red heart outline
         on the packed snow.

Slush trailed a truck crossing
              the bridge like a comet’s tail.
That night, she sat on the living room
              floor naked, drinking cocoa,
                           her eyes swelling shut.

There, my own reflection in the window,
            face as dour as five o’clock
                        church bells.

From outside, the window is a perfect frame.