Drowning Creek

Past the strip malls and the power plants, 
out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road
and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek, 
there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where 
I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year, 
the belted kingfisher, crested in its Aegean 
blue plumage, perched not on a high snag
but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek 
for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were 
driving fast toward home and already our minds
were pulled taut like a high black wire latched 
to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car
to take a closer look at the solitary, stocky water
bird with its blue crown and its blue chest
and its uncommonness. But already we were
a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher
by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed. 
People were nothing to that bird, hovering over 
the creek. I was nothing to that bird, which wasn’t 
concerned with history’s bloody battles or why 
this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name 
I love though it gives me shivers, because 
it sounds like an order, a place where one 
goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call it anything. 
I’m almost certain, though I am certain 
of nothing. There is a solitude in this world
I cannot pierce. I would die for it. 

From The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Ada Limón. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org