Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"River"

On the surface of the old, slow river,
fragments of incandescence drift
across familiar green murk as birch
and hickory whittle morning to shavings.
A blue jay, lost in new foliage, tosses
splinters of song down through air
touched with the scent of tea olive
planted next to the kitchen window
up the slope of the hill.
You stand for a moment, then turn
to look past the cedar to the ripples
where a mate-hungry carp has just
slapped the river with its tail, ritual
announcement of spring's arrival.
A few steps away, the shed, long empty,
where the roan pony called every morning
and evening for its food and brushed
against you like a large collie, eager
to be stroked. Gone now as the daughter
is gone. You finger the moldering bridle,
then turn back to the dozen mudstone steps
cut and set in the hillside three decades
ago. The blades of arthritis stab knees
and hips as you climb back to the house
perched on the hillside for the final time.
The last truck waits to take you three miles
to the ground-floor apartment devoid of memories.

3 Comments:

Blogger Cailleach said...

This makes me feel very sad. The reason for this is right at the end - it reminds me of people being rounded up and sent to concentration camp or to be shot.

Maybe that's not quite the effect you were going for, but that's how I reacted!

The foreshadowing in the poem did not prep me for the ending, which I think I found quite shocking because it is so stark. Good effect!

5:54 AM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

Thanks. I was actually trying to catch some sense of what my father must have felt after leaving the home he and my mother had built and where they had raised my sister and me, all because his health had become a serious enough issue that he couldn't handle living in a multi-leveled house on the side of a steep hill any longer. So what you're saying is that the piece seems to work to do that; at least, I hope it does. Thanks for the comments; they help and are always appreciated.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Peter Garner said...

Really beautiful poem. Glad I found it and even gladder you wrote it. The imagery is crystal clear and stunning. Bravo!

7:06 AM  

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