Mirage in the Mire

Baptism in the river will be followed by a wet t-shirt contest. I walk a hot trail of dried peach stones. It is 33 degrees Celsius. I envy the church group standing cool as pear trees in the silty water. Two women in white summer clothes, wide hips in cotton skirts. I’m thinking duck mites, swimmer’s itch. I’m thinking erect nipples. Pictures will be taken as they wade back to shore thick-legged, their souls changed. Failed speed skaters — they glide back to the same mud, the same marriages.

Tanja Bartel is a poet and English teacher in the Vancouver area. She was part of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University in 2012. Her work has recently been published in The Prose Poem Project, Poetry Repairs and the anthology emerge 2012.