By Taylor Patterson
I do not name him,
the river had done that long before
I showed up. Spring rain ticks
against my lemonade can while
the bullfrogs’ basin necks creak.
He catches my eye again,
turtle hugging the moldering log,
stoic amidst the rumbling downpour.
I twist my sneakers into the algae and mud,
planting them into the earth. My buttermilk cheeks
drip the atmosphere’s sweat,
ringlets of oak hair collecting the clouds
and splitting at the ends
like the river’s delta.
The turtle and I unwavered
by the storm.
I do not reach for him,
though I know I could.
I am trying to be less possessive
of the world. Nothing belongs to me,
and that is why I do not pick the
budding magnolias on the way home.
This does not frighten me, because
it means I too, belong to no one.
I remember Maj’s words,
“They are all named Freedom, first name and last.
Can’t tell ‘em apart. It doesn’t matter. Who told you
it did? Hello, Freedom. Good morning, Freedom.
I love you, Freedom. Don’t you love Freedom,
Freedom? Your Mama did.”