Sit by the River

by Geoffrey Gaddis

Water shapes its banks, banks shape the river.
One is constantly containing change,
the other constantly changing.
One stands still, the other moving, yet
both remain the river.
Both have been here since the beginning
lodged in this deep fold in the earth’s crust.
Sit on the bank and become part of the river.
If any of this water is meant for you,
it will arrive at your feet.

Light will skim the surface, shadowing ripples.
Small fish dart just above the bottom sand.
A turtle waddles onto a half sunken log.
A blue heron freezes in the shallow’s reeds.
A red fox sniffs mouse trails, then takes a drink.
As evening comes, birds call.  Crickets sing slow songs.

This water reflects the cold disk of the night.
Stars dance on its mirror,
as mist rises in patches.
I am tired of Chinese poems with their moons
and rain and mountains and insects.
The poet drinks, falls unconscious, and wakes
with a writing brush in hand.
Let’s let the water run its course to the sea
where whales can cleanse it
with their fine baleen combs.

Let the water run the great belt currents
around the banks of continents
and return to this valley with the rain
talking on the water,
entering the water with its own sound.