By Lauren Scharhag
The Great Smokies, cool even in August,
we hiked its trails lined with mountain laurel,
beheld its many waterfalls. We caught the end
of the bee-balm, the jewel weed.
We went inner tubing, drifting for miles
through the green-gold afternoon,
limbs dangling like leaf stems over the sides.
I learned real quick that even these small rapids
could knock you from your rubber mount.
The current pulled me down,
dragged me along the rocks at the bottom.
Gasping and bleeding, I dog-paddled over to retrieve my tube
from the shallows and went on.
Eventually, the water broadened and grew quiet.
I lay back, weightless beneath the hemlock and sourwood.
The water had claimed a great deal of my skin,
some fingernails, even my silver ring.
So when I got out, I lined my pockets with river stones.
Seemed only fair.
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. She is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince, West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her poems and short stories have appeared in over seventy journals and anthologies, including Voice of Eve, Isacoustic, The American Journal of Poetry, and Gambling the Aisle. She lives on Florida’s Emerald Coast. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com