Oarswoman — Rick Silva

Firm in the mud, astride the timestream slip
between darkness of Delta night-quiet
and the brick kiln flare of full day,

the dredging rigs have a line of barges waiting,
and she is late with today’s mail.

She stands, weary, aching, dawn still
cool with light just sufficient to make
out the eyes painted on the bows
of every boat motoring upriver to the floating market.

Not one of those eyes has ever noticed her.
The skill of her hand,
the strength of her back and shoulder
have avoided each collision,
each entanglement in the stream of moments

that arrived at this patch of dawning light and sticking mud.

She mostly goes with the current these days.
There’s tourist money on the Delta in the morning,
and a late message that she’ll carry
at the speed of the tide, until the only downstream
is flowing into the mouths of the dredges.

She was born a river girl
and when the pain of the bloodstream slows her,
she stands aground on a quiet bank,
watching the bits of floating plastic that will tell
her when the tide has turned.

***

Rick Silva’s speculative fiction has been published in’ anthologies by Flying Pen Press,  Apex Publications, and Crossed Genres. He also writes and publishes comics through his own small press, Dandelion Studios. Rick grew up in Boston Massachusetts, and currently teaches chemistry at an international school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he lives with his wife, their son, and their cat.