We’ve learned: the mind may turn to leaky vessel
with fealty and narrative tipping into emptiness.
So when we round the blind curve of Gold Creek
and the outline of the river birch makes no sense
against the backdrop of eastern Oregon, we call it
an omen, slow the car in the gravel and approach
its branches leafing out in shoes: sneakers, cleats,
boots, pointes—all with inked messages scrawled
on arches or insteps. We each remove a shoe,
print secrets for the other on the tongues. We knot
the dirtied laces to pair up the soles that have carried us
separately thus far, and offer them to high branches,
begging safe possession of our unsoiled hopes
before we ever have a chance to lose them.