What To Do With A River


In summer, day long, and sometimes 

into the night, the noise of those sousing 

themselves on nautical pleasures––

captains of leisure craft and their guests––

ricochets off the river.  Hulls slap against 

wakes then galumph over them.  

Quieter the wavering and scissoring sails 

of the sailboats, the bright kayaks 

that add a silver slit to seams of light.  

Quieter still, the austere seasons of small laps 

against the river’s banks.  Then, bell-clear, 

I hear gull caw bounce off ice.

Yesterday the river and sky seemed to be 

a wash of ink on rice paper, a wash lifted 

here and there with a dab of cotton. 

Then there’s that week when the sealed river 

breaks, rumbles, groans like an old horse 

lifting itself up from cold ground.  

I’ve heard ice chunks clank and knock 

as if an anchor struck and kept striking iron.  

I go down to the river to pray––not to pray––

to consider impermanence, variability, 

temperament, color in itself, to lose myself 

in the river’s rhythms, let its moods penetrate, 

note the floating wood, the herons, geese, gull . . .   

I think I could drown here, could rock-up 

the pockets of my old wool coat and . . .  

Why not?  A few moments of rugged resolve 

trump the eked-out erasures of assisted living,

pain, demential, nursing home . . .  

I have my eye on a path or two, 

spots to slip through unseen, to wade in 

till I stumble and, behold, the current takes.