Cast of Cousins | Kierstin Bridger

When his name comes up,
we cast our eyes in the ripples,
mesmerize ourselves into salvaging the day,
grin for photos, grab another sweaty beer.

Below our boat,
below the hook and barb
tires hold down tarps

leaching God knows what
into the gut of the trout.
Our children laugh, brace for the icy water,
life vests strapped over their strong chests.

Like this pond we’ve dropped our lines in: reflective.
Mop bucket sky and jagged San Juan peaks, concentric
rings stirred with our oars as thunderstorms approach.

They’d be here a day earlier
if not for posting bail.
More charges than answers,
blood backed against the wall.

But they are here, floating, reeling,
my cousin the pheasant hunter,
who greets gophers with gunfire,

who packs a pistol
on his hip most days,
in the oil fields, on his ranch.
He throws back every catch,

a courtesy to my tender-hearted daughter
who already knows how to the work the pliers.
Suppose I am the white sheep with the black heart.

All of us with blood on our hands, yet
I know something thicker than water runs through her.
She creates air bubbles; she’s part of the new breed.
She drums the surface to revive what seems belly up.

Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer. She is a winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio award and an Anne LaBastille Poetry residency and was short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Competition in the UK. She is editor of Ridgway Alley Poems, Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. She is a writing instructor at both the Ah Haa School and Weehawken Creative Arts. Visit her blog here.

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