From Peru
The river their guide jumped into,
they told me on their return from Peru,
was a chummed raw sienna, not mackerel-blue.
He leaped in and nearly knocked the boat over!

They expected schools of frothing teeth  
to harvest him; but he surfaced, face bright
as an anxious fish hook.   Laughing,
he waggled his fingers, splayed them tight  

round the boat’s side as if it were a stage curtain.
The jungle chattered more than it had for days.
They shed clothes at this solid translation
of aqui es seguro and leapt into the haze.

Tuesday’s heat flash-dried their bodies,
as well as the splashed pants, jungle hats, and a psalter
propped open to air the pages.  Was that a lost
sloth there, gray among viridian, the alter-

ego of the elusive piranha?  They searched the shore
until their narrow boat turned suddenly
dull against the vermilion sun-glare.
They listened to the river’s song of constancy.

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