Alice Brasser © 2019

Alice Brasser © 2019


by Marley Stuart

Initial Speed


My mother bathed me in the Black River
where broken glass washed up on the stones
in pitted lumps of emerald and rust and clear,
perfect marbles. Evenings, she arranged them
in windowsills to drink light and hand it back.
Mornings, down to the water again.  

The river never was all black. It threaded
with color day to day, depending
on what dye the factory upstream
was putting out. Cadmium, indigo,
every color the glass wasn’t. The glass
smooth as soap, it traveled west with us
to the town where my parents met,
then south after their marriage broke.
Still, it lies in patterns on low windowsills.  

My mother tells me it’s a wonder
I managed without cuts or skin diseases,
though sometimes I did need a second rinse
in the tub. Summers, when I drive north
to visit my father, she says, Go to the river,
look for glass, bring it back to me.


Marley Stuart coordinates study abroad programs in Ecuador for Andean Study Programs. An Assistant Editor of Louisiana Literature, his stories and poems have recently appeared in the Chattahoochee Review, Permafrost, and SPEAK The Magazine. He and his wife, the writer Kimberly Dawn Stuart, direct the small press, River Glass Books.