I come late to this joining—the Clinch,

its tributary Powell, early named Pelisipi,

winding waters, by the Cherokee. I love

the evenings most, when my granddaughters


unwind, the house reflects zircons, mined

surface of river. Not my house, but my family,

my welcome, years past parting—shoals,

switchbacks, snaky coves. Again at table,


arms and necks sun warmed, I give my first

husband the lion’s share as his mother

instructed in my twenties. I serve and remove

his plate, refill his glass without resentment


or ire, the outlier who eddied away,

the red rover called to the other side.

Let me come over, I ask him, the rope

less taut between us—and, knot


by knot, he mends memory’s seine.

Together we sift rock and silt, the epic

flood’s devastation. Tonight brim and bluegill

are striking. He sets a lantern at the end


of the dock. Norris above, Melton Hill

below dam old levels against new spill,

release familiar schools I swim

with currents easing.