Always in the middle of this-
the inside out nights,
tended flowers that do not bloom,
disappearance of two owls,
the muddle of mind as it twists
and turns back to grief-
is the river’s choreography, its genius.
I sense its compositions even at a distance
in my waking and sleeping and go to it.
The Willamette, Columbia, Sandy, Tualatin,
names thick with history that did not
include me, yet I may recline or
lope along its mucky, rocky banks;
I am not denied as it ripples and surges by,
a force on many missions, a lullaby, a dance.
And indifferent to me, I may think,
save that it hears my confessions and dreams
then offers up a gentling or scouring wind
and mirrors every skyscape, cloud, tree.
The river enfolds my secrets in its depths.
And answers to itself but lets me live in its glory.
It must know that if I had a boat it would be my house,
I would loosen the knots, slip off and go, riding its back.
But I can only give attendance to its
magnetic depths and elegant muscle,
the swirl shrug rush rise of water morning into night,
my ears attuned to telegraphed beats, vivace, larghetto,
its teachings subliminal and wise–
what I mean to say is
its songs and dances, its colors
sustain and salvage life, and
make me radiant and true, and it is like
sailing all the way to heaven and back again,
bearing witness to power as I
listen and do hear, look and do see,
seek and do find