A Watershed is a Drainage System

Hannah Smith | Poetry

Something more desperate than steam
peels off the tarmac. Dallas is flat as we fly in.

The Trinity is drying more every year
since I left this place. There’s news

of a conservation project I cannot see
from my seat in the sky. Years back, boys

I used to know in the beds of pickup trucks
caught four-foot alligator gar

along the bank. Prehistoric monsters
with origins in the Permian. Of course,

they are endangered now—rules are loose
around catch and release. I make a mental note

to walk the newly-built bridge named for the daughter
of an oil tycoon. Its cables spin up, a tangle

of sharp white wires that reflect on days
the water isn’t so cloudy. My sister calls

me or my mother when she needs to complain
about womanhood, how we wish we were all

flat-chested, how we’ve wondered where to invest
our bodies. There is a flashflood warning

as we land. The water will swell then retreat
back to its cracked mudbank. I was sixteen

the last time I walked this river. All my thoughts
drained, then filled into a clean tampon tossed     

to the river’s edge. It must still soak itself
along the waterline, waiting for time, compression,

some especially desperate fish to sink
its teeth into cotton folds blooming open, waiting

like I wait at the baggage claim pick-up, unsure
if I’ll beat the storm. A short drive to the yard

full of trees in their shedding season.