Some hard days xe walks along
the desiccated riverbed again.
On the worst days, xe bends down,
scoops up flecks of copper mud,
brings them to xyr lips when xe yearns
for that old taste of brackish water.
Fewer days are hard now. More often,
xe sucks on butterscotch or licorice,
leaning back in xyr rocking chair with
a dog-eared book and a flop-eared dog.
Xe listens to the grass shiver in the wind,
no longer dampened by crying estuary.
Xyr parents — both dentists — liked xyr
house better before the dam was built.
They live on a hill; they’ve never lost their
vinyls and egg crates to the jealous sea.
They call xym on the phone sometimes.
By mutual unspoken agreement, no
one speaks of the dam, though xe knows
what they think, and they know
When xe hangs up, xe smiles, only a touch
sad that xe can't ask for saltwater taffy