Graffiti on the defunct valve house says FREE THE RIVER.
But the river’s not a river; it’s a creek. And water is good at getting free
when left alone to hide in clouds. Here water has been made
an unwilling participant in trapping a shape, mixed into cement
and hardened into a dam to gag the creek. One asks: What if water
is an animal we can’t understand? The other agrees: Does it not creep
along the ground and hover in the air? So the Dogcatchers bring
blue ten-gallon buckets to the bank to bail the water out.
They pour the water over the edge of the dam. Because one had read
in a book that water is generally happier when sung a pretty song,
they sing their favorite while they tip the buckets and turn back
to the shore for more: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear water, happy birthday to you.
WLS is a poet. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University Bloomington. Her first book, Psychogynecology, was published by Monster House Press in 2015. Her work can be found many places, including poets.org and The Portland Review. Other poems about The Dogcatchers can be found in the anthology Undeniable, published by Alternating Currents Press.