whispering to fish

By Hanna Johnson

She sat in the green waters 
of the Dolores river
and let orange sand squish 
under her wiry thighs. 
The grainy sediment left pinpricks of 
pigment on her pale skin as

warm water eddied and twirled
around her hips. 
The sun echoed off of the water 
and stained her freckled back. 
Nimble fingers slipped brown 
buttons through their 
threadbare holes as she hastily 
tore off her sun shirt. 
She watched the stained blue fabric
float downstream, lazily mirroring the sky.

Black fish the length of a pen cap,
tickled her toes 
and placed their mouths on her fingertips
to suck the salt from her skin. 
She giggled and tossed her head back 
so far that the slow moving stream
coated the ends of her dark hair

In one smooth motion, she scooped up 
water and a singular black fish. 
She placed her lips close the handheld pool
and whispered a heavy secret. 
Her long fingers, with orange dust
smudged under the nails,
unfolded and let the fish go

She watched its midnight body swim
past rocks and reeds, carrying the
small phrase of her.
Then 
she laid back, 
face to the sky, 
back against the glossy surface
and felt herself float downstream 
with her whispers and the fish


Hannah Johnson is a botanist working in the red rock vistas and plateaus of Southern Utah. The landscape surrounding her is infectious and filled with awe. Much of her work is inspired by the landscapes and plants she encounters while working and playing among the rocks and flowers.

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