Too many creeks run underground,
making low sounds that rumble submissively
through concrete slabs.
But here, Islais creek openly combs through willows
through this city’s heart, talking
in syllables to lone women walking their dogs.
The gray weave of willow branches
tinged with brown and olive green
tunes my nerves to a looser pitch
quiets my worries over schedules,
safety, human noises, the groans, screeches,
sirens of my speech.
Here on this clear day, I surrender
to birdsong, to the hum of insect wings and legs,
to the slow notes of white rock that
bubbled up once from the sea’s green wash
while, right now, the creek speaks the one word
in clear words over and over on the gauzy stones.
by Paul Totah
March 1, 2000