On the River
A day on the river, processional, surrendered
in a shell of whispers, floating down a blue nave.
Leaf ceilings in the transepts lace like our fingers,
our heads bow over the side as if to worship
the spirit holding us up.
Jade waters full of secret life
blind back our defenseless eyes with
their shifting coat of surfaced silver,
a door of running glass we pass through
into moving darkness
full of quick fleeing shapes, green-glazed stones,
waving grass that clutches with hands and feet,
water babies swimming through our fingers,
gloving us in their slickness,
cartwheeling to escape our careless giants’ grasp.
Minnows like chrome torpedos, mirror-sided
decorate the shallows, fishermen’s bribes
spinning vertical on their lips between the stones
like the ghosts between my thoughts
feeding there and shining.
This is a journey we do not
wish to disturb by any arrival.
Watchful faces in the high rock follow us
but not so thoroughly, so aptly, so archly
as the faces in our dreams.
The river loses and wins her mercurial battles
without any knowledge of a contest.
So it is in the river of your touch
where I spin silver, slick and never stopping,
carried from twilight to another dawn.
Revised, March 2011
Image: Boatman of Mortefontaine, by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot,
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot [Public domain], via wikimedia commons