Kern River, Autumn
Don Thompson

Those chattering run-off streams,
cold enough to numb your hand,
always dry up early.
And the eelgrass that thrives beside them,
too green to be true, dies.

This country allows only for browns
in the long run—and creekbeds
like faint lines in the sand
scratched by a stick.

Even the river languishes now,
reduced to a trickle.
Below the boulders, high and dry,
morose pools sink into themselves,
hoarding whatever they can
to bring them through the dry season.

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