Cow-licked, freckled, skinny as a barn cat—
she had me on my back,
was pulling me right out of my blue jeans.
It was late summer, at least,
and the river had the clean stink of gravel—
no rotting tires or mud-foundered bullhead—
a warm wind silvered
the leaves of cottonwoods,
the crows making a racket
in the stripped chokecherries like it might
even matter.
Maybe it does matter—
the grass itched my bare ass, her thighs
pearled as river shells.

Joe Wilkins is the author of a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing Up on the Big Dry, a finalist for the 2013 Orion Book Award, and two collections of poems, Notes from the Journey Westward and Killing the Murnion Dogs. He lives with his family in western Oregon.