Our Side of the Creek

We piled planks, sheets of tin,
& sandbags across the creek
till the bright water rose
& splayed both sides,

swelling into our hoorah.
Our hard work brought July
thrashers & fat June bugs
in decades of dead leaves.

Water moccasins hid in holes
at the brim of the clay bank
as the creek eased up pelvic
bones, hips, navel, & chest,

to eye level. When the boys
dove into our swim hole
we pumped our balled fists
to fire up their rebel yells.

The Jim Crow birds sang
of persimmon & mayhaw
after a 12-gauge shotgun
sounded in the deep woods.

If we ruled the day an hour
the boys would call girl cousins
& sisters, & they came running
half-naked into a white splash,

but we could outrun the sunset
through sage & rabbit tobacco,
born to hide each other’s alibis
beneath the drowned sky.

More Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa