Texarkana Tap Water by Carrie Naughton

Water Preservation by Joel Robison
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Texarkana Tap Water

Texarkana tap water tastes like shopping malls.
Brown leaves skitter across concrete parking lots
and collect in soggy clumps of windblown plastic bags
snagged against rusty street signs and
overflowing grease dumpsters.
I gather up the wolf spiders, ladybugs, and wood wasps
when they crawl into the corners of my room to die,
their legs curled tight in a final empty embrace.

Texarkana tap water tastes like the bottom of a pond.
When the lake turns over, everything
buried bubbles up to the surface
like weak fizz leaking from a dirty beer can.
I stay up late, listen to Mingus and the ratatat
of acorns falling on the roof,
while owls and feral cats circle the house
and mosquitoes tickle the windows.

Texarkana tap water tastes like a rotted log rolling in the bayou.
Wrens and cardinals and redwings flitter in the cane.
A pale, speckled shroud of duckweed ripples on the surface
as White-tailed deer walk the banks.
The rains come without thunder and linger all night.
I fall asleep on the couch and dream
of swimming across dark lakes while
below me, shadows tug at my kicking limbs.

Texarkana tap water tastes like licking a lizard.
It’s better cold and quick.
Drink of it and think of it like these flocks
of starlings swirling above pastures.
Or close your eyes and imagine the jay’s bright blue wings.
I sip green tea, coffee, iced sweet black Luzianne
homemade with this frog-forward, earthy wine trickled
down through East Texas timberland loam.


Carrie Naughton

Carrie Naughton is a freelance bookkeeper who writes speculative fiction, environmental essays, book reviews, and poetry. Her work can be read at freezeframefiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Silver Birch Press, Slink Chunk Press, and NonBinary Review. Find her at carrienaughton.com – where she blogs frequently about whatever captures her interest.