The river


The water starts so fast it tears the womb,

the Earth, from which it bubbles free and runs.

It cuts the soil from banks so sharp they trick

the feet and make the going there unsure.

It rolls the pebbles hard and pushes them

toward ideal, so smooth and clean and bright

they shine as gems so long as they are wet.

The river then is beautiful and fierce

and all that tries to turn its course is swept

away and torn apart and left as waste.

The water slows and widens soon, too soon.

The banks are gentle, firm and rich with growth,

and walking, sitting, dreaming there bring joys

so sweet you think you’ll stay and never leave.

The river does not stem its flow for love.

It carries forward, growing broader, more

reflective in its gently rippled face.

At last the river’s winding course is done.

The river joins the greater body, lake

or sea, and is a single thing no more.

I’m going out to walk the river’s shore;

I’ll only stop to fish a meal or two

(and wade the shallows for a while, I may):

I know I won’t be gone long–you come too.