Monday, October 6, 2014

Like the River Flows

Love Like a River

                                 This poem is dedicated to Anthony Bulloch  

Oh yes, I miss you my darling, how much I am almost ashamed to say; though where’s the shame in love, yes, love that runs like a river, mad love that overflows riverbanks, wetting the dry land and leaving treasures behind: sediment and river fish I suppose, their skeletons, and river rocks, smoothed by time, polished for decorating sand castles, builder’s materials for a stacking up of levels, of layers, oh all of this, and pebbles for boys to hunt and skim, 

as you once did, love that runs like a river, deep river with a deeper heart, deep river heart that knows you like a son, so that it lulls you on days of calm, feeds you and carries you, and when you walk along the riverbanks, in the storm, in the rain, it courses fiercely beside you, jealous perhaps of your love for this girl or that, jealous of the way you stroked this one with the tips of your fingers, kissed that one with your sweet lips, it’s the river nymph you see, she loves you always, 

her long hair flows behind her like seaweed, marry me she murmurs, come wading in and let me embrace you, but you, you are wise, you know all the tales of the Lorelei, so you walk alongside, you will gain her wisdom, take all of her stories  and put them to your own uses, all the while making her love you, not like a son but like a lover now, a man, grown, grown wary. She runs beside you twisting and turning, flipping at every bend in the river, and when she twists her body you can see her lovely arms that cleave the water, and when she flips you see her lovely breasts, silkily she flashes amidst the waves, there is her cheek her silky long back, a heel that splashes, long legs that kick, she wails now, softly and wordlessly, her stories all told, she has given you everything, her body and her mind, must you leave her now, at the bottom of the river, sorrowing for you, her tears causing the river to rise, will you recall her image when you tell people her stories, will you remember her passion, how she raced alongside you but couldn’t keep up, and sank into the river, a deep river that hides the river god her father, won’t she have reproached you, called upon the great river god to punish you, I think not you see, for you know all of the river gods, know them well, even what stories they like to hear, and you can turn any river god to your own uses, even this one, this river god, for you have made all of the proper sacrifices have you not? I don’t believe there is a deity that you have not known intimately, whose name and nature you have not understood, perhaps that is why you were the best of lovers, your gentle touch like morning’s purest ablution, your lovemaking like the rushing of the river when the generous waterfall winds its way down from the mountain top. And when will you take the stories of the mortal women you have loved, 

our bodies you have taken, our hearts we gave you long ago, hoping to find you again around the river bend, hoping to be loved by you once more, and will you tell all of our stories, our secrets, I believe you will, you will make us blush for the love we gave you, so freely, or at any cost, just to lie with you on the dry shore was a pleasure, we offered our bodies again and again, and you took us,  and touched our perfect bodies with your mind, we gave you all the lore we had to give, every poem, every tale, oh do not leave us naked on the shore, cover us instead as Sky covered Earth, when they mated long ago, another story you told, for I think your stories will go on, longer than we do, longer than all of us, for here it is, we have reached the bay, we are hurled against the rocks, we are all flowing out to sea, river is a dark memory, deep memory, do not forget us! But you stand on the seashore, you skim a pebble or two, and you return to the human habitations, and you go on telling your marvelous stories, that really do not come to an end, never finished, never used up, are they? And you, teller of tales, the one who loved every sea nymph to get her lore, you who loved us too, mortal women, you, dark lover, deep storyteller, keen mind to comprehend it all, you go on, even past the river, on and on my love, and if I could I would inhabit the body of every female you ever touched, ever kissed, ever loved, goddess or mortal, I would embody them all, the better to love you, but I had to wait on the land while you loved the water nymph, the human girls, younger and more beautiful than I was, and lonely and longing for you, I felt the sting of jealousy, the pang of betrayal, as you loved so many, forgetting the promises you made me long ago, but Ah! when you had finished with loving them and bargaining with them for pebbles, for seashells and rocks, and leaving all these riches by the riverside,  instead of taking their pebble bracelets, their shell necklaces, their feminine secrets, you packed your traveler’s bag with stories, you journeyed, you arrived home late, late in the day, 

and I tried to be angry, but my heart overflowed with joy at the sight of you, and tears wet my face, and you pulled them out of your bag one by one: the stories, then you promised to tell me so many of  them, but first we must eat and slake our thirst, and then you led me to the marriage bed, our bed of sheets and blankets, no riverbed, and you tilted me back laughing, under my hips you placed a pillow, and loving me you brought on such strong pleasure, such heavy sleep, that I drifted from your side and dreamed deeply, then when I woke you were gone from me, back to the river for more stories, more nymphs, you were gone from me, oh my love, but you left me with child time and again, children of the riverside, storytellers all, they would not be harmed by a river god, they would not be drowned by a Lorelei, or strangled in the winding seaweed of her hair, they were capable, knew how to run beside a river, chasing stories,  they grew well and went their way, and what have I now? Oh I have not your power, you belong to nature, the thrust of it the force, but this I have, despite my diminutive stature, I have right here, pumping in my breast, a heart that goes on and on, its beating like the surge of springtime, its song a river song, for I sing songs like your stories: immortal, eternal, recurring; Oh who found these songs? you asked me, who brought them here among us? you wanted to know, why it was I, your constant wife, loving you always, dreaming of you still, dreaming of running alongside you, a river god, dreaming of catching your fleeting shadow, though you outpaced me, you outraced me, you outran me, long ago

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