DARK CANYON: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RIVER
Does a river flow backwards like the blues
or blue memory of life as a child, kicking
out the rocks on every skinned-knee path
and lulling sleep on soft mother’s lap?
Does the water conquer or divide? Is
there a sum of parts to swim? Whitewater
reveals only what it hides and dams stay dumb.
Every stone has a story it won’t tell:
the cold truth of our own indifference
to what cannot be plundered or pursued.
A lake named Powell is like a bank named
Marx, the rapids now as still as the cool
glow of the television in Tucson
they’ve surrendered their lives to.
Yangtze or Penobscot, Bio-Bio
or Colorado, the same stream cannot
be drowned in twice. It moves wherever
you move, and you both move. Not just
in Lost Yak or Cataract, Tiger’s Leap
or Lava, but inside the monotonous
crush of millennia, inside out.
The river is not there for you. If
you point and say, There is the river,
you lie. The river swims, with no mind
and all grace, out of the sun and into
the moon, swims over your rock bones, your
marrow of pool and drop, love and lack,
wet memory of fear and hope, and hope.