by Dave Rideout

I stared at myself
reflecting on the day
in the cold, glassy surface of
a stream years deep
but shallow just the same

I looked better or worse
based on how the light would change
so when lit up as the former
I touched a finger to my face

it rippled out like sonar,
and pinged against the banks
moving with a current
that pulled along my gaze

that’s when I saw the others knelt,
looking at themselves
sending their reflections
off toward the river’s mouth

on they’d go and out of sight
yet no one raised their head
they’d fix their hair or purse their lips and,
then they’d try again

the water swirled and clouded grey
a brine of them and me
a dull and uninspired soup
snaking toward the sea

an ocean from which we now must drink
that dries our tongues and numbs our taste
’til everything goes down the same
and stomachs growl for simpler days