In Malta we dug a hole in the earth
not far from the banks of the Milk River,
deep enough for two of us to stand in
and wide enough for two of us to sit in,
then roofed it over with leafy cottonwood branches
and hid out and waited.
The pleasure of not having to get anything straight.
The firmness of the earth. Also the sweetness.
How the mosquitoes swarmed and bit
as soon as we got out of the car fifty years later,
the river nothing more then than a muddy trickle,
seeping around small islands of brush.
That dusty little town on the Highline.
Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.
But what I want to say
is that as we crouched beneath the striped
and stippled shade of the branches
happy and sheltered and snug,
through the dark walls of the earth
and the sweetness of the earth and the firmness
we could feel the river flowing
just beyond us, we knew it was there,
strong and milky and deep,
and we still do.
published in the latest Cortland Review, issue 75