This wasn’t the first time or the last,
wasn’t the first time we thought of stone or the sparked and flushed light.

The flood was an afterthought of the river and the river of a greater crime.

This was when names arrived through a polish of rainwater.

Names are that which we give to what we otherwise forget, which is why I don’t work for memory.
That’s one thing and not the other.

I do love your name—how, when I realize the windows are best left open, it rolls out like thunder.
The small flood on the sill, too, is an afterthought, but like the river it forgets to end up in our mouths.

Mouths that keep rivers under the tongue like rumor.

Mouths that sing tribute to storms.

And though it’s not the first time, the sill swells in moist air.

And because I don’t know the intricacies of a dovetail, it won’t be the last, the last being a tribute to the labor of clouds in dry season.

This was when we first lay down in advancement.
This was when we skipped stones over tongues of the river.

            This was when.

In labor, a brief river precedes the child.

Through the radio, the siren hums out a rumor of flood.

It’s a story I’d rather not tell.

Copyright © 2007 by David Welch. “Tribute” originally appeared in New Orleans Review. Used with permission of the author.