Poem: News of the River

Illustration by Emma Crevier

I went to the river

       to ask news of the river,

and the river said to me:

«You always step in the same river twice–

      every time you return

you get more of the same.

I’ll  always be here, or hereabouts,

      for centuries gone,

and centuries to come—it comes to the same.

Through fire and flood, the river remains,

      open to sky and to sin and to leaves,

Everything that happens, happens to me.»

I asked the river,

      pent-breathed and pen still–

What are the things that have happened to you?

The mallard or herons,

      fish, fly, or ferret,

ferns in the shadows, tangle-haired willow?

The river laughed.

      «Go stand in my streams!

Or go to who knows me:

Fishers and watchers, ramblers, noticers

      of all the living,

Recorders of rivulets and keepers of currents,

Go to the ones who have stories to tell,

      who by their presence

shine light on the hiding.

Go ask the ones with their feet in the water,

      ankle or thigh

wet through with waiting,

The sharp-eyed, compassionate,

      sleepless and singing,

hands cold with questing, refining, digesting–

They are the shining,

      the silvered, like moonlight,They are my mirror. By them I am known.»

Elisabeth Wenger is a farmer and poet currently looking for a piece of land to take care of, and work herself down into. She has lived most of her life in Three Rivers, MI, although now the river has swept her to France. Its ways are mysterious.