Bright River Shining

 

Bright river shining sluggishly under the sun,

Sliding ever eastward over prairies and plains,

Meaningless meanders widening among milder slopes

And scoured remnants of rounded mountains,

Do you remember beginnings this way

In the toneless corpulence of your middle days?

Do you remember the turbulence of origins:

The first flash of moonlight breaking through roots,

Running you on among flowerfields tended in darkness,

The sky-high slopes plunging you downward

Toward canyons smelling of pine?

Do you know the things you knew?

The snakes slithering off to sunlight in mountain meadows;

The unshaven look of harvested highlands;

The quick cheek of a rabbit purged of its predator;

The jaybirds’ skittering swoop and screech;

The worms’ gnaw inside dry branches?

Do you anymore know what youth is;

What the cupped hand stands for;

How a girl’s laughter is older than all the sky over her;

That her glance is immortal though her eyes close?

What do you carry here between your beginnings and the final sea?

Are you silent now in these loose twists of your agony,

Knowing at last that the sun will continue

Along with the earth under it,

And nothing can turn aside the coming of that final conjunction?

 

July 1, 1966