Self-Portrait as Creek

Despy Boutris

Off-trail, I make my way 

to the creek, climbing 

over rocks. Distant, 


there’s the sound 

of kids laughing, 

a mother telling her kids


to be careful. Daily, 

I think about going back:

cargo pants, tie-dye shirts,


searching for crawdads. 

Back then, my body 

was only a body—not 


a war-torn town,

constant battleground. 

This creek was just a creek,


not something I wished 

was deep enough 

to drown me. & how 


does one go back 

to when the world 

was a wonder?


Or, if I can’t go back,

let me turn to a body 

of water,


let me be 

this rippling creek

dappled with sunlight.

Despy Boutris’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, The Journal, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, Guest Editor for Palette Poetry and Frontier, and Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.