We are sitting on the edge
of the dock with
bare legs disappearing into ripples.
You light one lamp
so the boats don’t smash into the dock.
Your shorts are almost too small
again, but it’s too late in the summer
to buy new ones.
Pinholes pierce the night and mosquitoes
whine at our necks. Moths batter
the lamp. Our old hound spreads
out like a puddle next to me,
lips draped over his crossed paws,

I can’t pin it down, but you aren’t the little girl
you were yesterday. You are still
nine with bruised shins
and a sunburned mask across your cheeks,
but you ask questions
that don’t make sense.
You lay back, feet still in the lake
and watch the bats flit in and out
of light streak towards the boathouse
and never hit. You want to know
why they don’t crash.
“Ha” I say. "What do you know
at nine about crashing?"
I don’t have the answers, girl,
and you don’t need them yet.


Copyright © 2010 Moriah Erickson


Moriah Erickson is a senior English major at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She is mother to six children, ages 14 months to 14 years and works part time as a respiratory therapist. She is a carnivore in the omnivore's world and is beginning her MFA at the University of Alaska at Anchorage this summer. She hopes to someday teach creative writing and American Literature at the high school or college level.