Posts Tagged ‘river’


The shocking tender curl of him,
   wild river, raging, rush of him,
     the eddied, lazy swirl of Sunday
   morning sleepy smile of him,
the flood-stage leaping wave of him,
   high overflowing shores of him,
     torrential reckless course of him,
       now empty, unfilled banks of—
     dry barren rocky bed of—
   the utter lack of here of—
the pray-for-rain parched air of him,
   dark growing rain cloud storm of him,
     the sometimes-I-hear-rapids hum,
       deep currents in my lungs of him
         how is it I still breathe him in—
       the river is inside me hymn.

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Memory of sitting by the river,
you taking my picture,
the leaves around us
already changing—
you were happy that day,
camera in hand,
no hint of sorrow,
no augury of grief.
Oh, that beautiful day.
I fold it in half,
run my finger down the crease,
unfold it, rotate it ninety degrees
and fold it in half again.
In six more steps,
I’ve folded it neatly into a boat.
Someday, perhaps,
I will float it down the river.
Today, I tuck it
into my mind’s back pocket.
When I need to, I touch it,
run my fingers along the folds.
It carries me along
the current.

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for Finn (9/11/04-8/14/21)

I threw rocks in the river today.
Not because I thrill to throw rocks,
but because I love to remember
how you thrilled to throw rocks.
How you squealed at the spray
and clapped your hands at the sound
of the quiescent surface being broken.

Your joy was the pure joy of life itself,
life that knows itself through tossing,
through splattering, through squealing,
life that longs to stand on the bank
and throw rock after rock after rock.
Joy was never in the rock itself,
it wasn’t even in the splash,

nor is there joy in the rocks today.
But there is joy in feeling close to you here.
Joy in the memory of you being so alive.
Joy in remembering your smile,
your hands flying up in delight.
Joy, even, in the longing for you.
I throw rock after rock. I remember.

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She carries a vase
of delphiniums and daisies
and I carry a tune
and we toss them all
like wishes
into the river.
Some wishes
are more beautiful
for knowing they will never
come true.
When we are done
we hold hands in the twilight
and watch the last
of the flowers float
in the shimmering eddies.
This is the moment
I would not have known
to have wished for.
I lean into this moment.

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Almost Imperceptible

The winter river
flows beneath
the ice,
then enters
low below
my thoughts,
its song
so slow
I almost miss
its strains,
how all is current—
dying, living,
gaining, losing,
forgetting and
how all is
all is

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All Is Water

One river gives
its journey to the next.
            —Alberto Ríos, “When Giving Is All We Have”

I thought it was I giving the journey to you.
You gave your journey to me.

I thought I was the head waters,
but I have become your tributary.

Now I carry your turbulence. I carry your calm.
I carry the waters of my own breaking.

A river follows the same changing course,
but the water moving through is always new.

Let’s name this river the river of sorrows.
Let’s name it the river of love.

New, is it any wonder I am startled by this journey?
Old, is it any wonder I am still longing to give?

Traveling these shores, there are moments
when I feel every other wave that has ever passed and

feel every wave that will ever be, and know
myself a share of something greater, something

generous that is always giving, something
ever borrowing from the current of the world.

*Title is a quote from Thaleus of Miletus

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Leaning in to Paradox

Tonight your sister and I
frosted the sugar cookies—
all the same shapes you’d remember:
stars and wreaths, angels and trees,
gingerbread men and sheep.
We made a rabbit into a Santa
and four gingerbread men
into Spiderman, complete
with red boots and large white eyes
and spiders on their chests.
And we laughed, deep muscled currents
of laughter. And I missed you.
Strange how even the happiest moments
are thirsty. Because of course
you are here in the red and green frosting,
here in the sweet mindless chatter,
here in the communion of sweet dough
and carols, and not here
in the chair beside me. There is
a calculus of thirst—the study
of continuous change in which
loving you is the constant.
This is the work of my life—
to love what is here, to love
what is not, and to learn how thirst,
too, is a tribute to the river.

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The Waking

When we wake, all people are rivers—
though some are torrents and some
mere trickles, though some break down
obstacles and some slowly meander.  
We move from our beds through the banks
of the world, our lives following the course
of the day. Our streams merge with the streams
of others. We are, every day, more each other
and still somehow ourselves. If only we could trust
our uniting currents as unthinkingly as the rivers
follow gravity—always with the least amount
of resistance. How long will we pretend
we are separate? How long before we find ourselves
joined in the communion of the sea, all our waters
one water, every waking an invitation.

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White Water

The day is a stream
and your love a blue canoe;
there are rapids
around the corner
and all I can do,
unskilled as I am
in reading the waves,
is paddle with fervor—
terror in my gut,
and this goofy smile
glued to my face.
Tomorrow, perhaps,
the stream will be calm,
but today
the white roar of chaos
crashes all around,
rocking and tossing.
It does no good to pretend
life is anything but what it is,
so I paddle, I scull,
and I may not be dry
but dang, I’ve never
been so alive, my arms,
dripping in diamonding light,
our lives at stake.  

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Even after all these years
of wandering this twisting path of self,
how is it I am still surprised
to find a new home inside the rush of river,
as if I haven’t been here
in this song of melting many times before?
How is it I forgot my home
inside the brittle brown grass of March,
home in the sweet moldering scent of spring,
home in the sun soaked day—
as if the great star of beginnings
is saying again to me, Come, friend.
How is it I sometimes forget to arrive
exactly where I am, especially in these days
when forgiveness arrives like the cranes
on great wings that charge the air.
These days when love comes crashing in
like western wind, breaking branches
and rearranging the yard, as if to say
it is here to change everything.
Sometimes I forget the world will find me
wherever I am and insist in the language
of willow and trunk and hawk and noon,
home, home, you are home.

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