Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
River, River

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Three in the pickup,
skis rattling in the bed,
tires spitting on the sanded
road we’re climbing
toward the mountain.

"Yellow house, yellow house," she says,
saying everything twice, like in
the picture book
about the brown bear.
"White fence, white fence."
"Three horses, three horses."
"Red barn, red barn."

The cab is warm.
We like the game.
We watch for things to add,
take turns piling up
her double list: "stone wall,"
"muddy field," "brick house," "streetlight,"
"flag pole," "dog sign,"
"smoke in a chimney."
Ahead is a parked car painted like a shark.
"Shark car, shark car!" we all
shout together. Ahead is a little stream
winding out of the woods.
"River, river!" she cries,
and we cross over it.

Watching things approach,
saying them out loud—
it seems we take them along,
fill up the truck.
"Pony, pony!" she screams at a Shetland
in the door of a barn. We’re owning
a lot right now.

"White church, white church."
We dive into the ravine
with the hairpin turns. Lots of trees.
Banks so steep.
Ahead, the big river, its rocks,
their furry caps of snow. The icy
sunlight in the water.
We watch it, going by.
Things empty out.

The road
dips and climbs again
toward the mountain, which,
when we get to it,
is closed. We turn around,
retrace our tracks. It’s quiet
in the truck, a little hungry.
His hands,
large and high
on the wheel. Her tiny voice

tries playing again.
"Pony, pony,"
she says, hoping,
but he has gone inside.
"River, river," she says,
and we cross
once more
over the little stream.

Cheryl Anne Latuner is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Soon They Will Fly—A Meditation at Fitzgerald Lake, and The Ballad of Sackman Street; and a memoir: Baby at My Breast—Reflections of a Nursing Mother. Her poems have appeared in The Comstock ReviewThe Spoon River Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Blue Lyra Review, among other journals. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is the mother of a daughter who is a sophomore at Connecticut College. She teaches literature at a Waldorf high school.

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