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This River (After Jennifer Lee Tsai) by Karen Lloyd

This river’s a constant talker      carries gossip from hills

Can tell you anything you               need to know about rain.

Rain as a gift or a burden. This river       blethers with oakwood

accommodates the chicanery of bridges. Is the submarine narrative

of stones and soils. Is minnows             bullhead, crayfish.

This river is walking the dog          is lovers, swimmers

and indiscretions dropped          from crookback bridges.

Is kingfisher’s jade-tipped        spear, is heron’s crankshaft

swallows, martins                 swifts.

This river is mayfly nebula       bat motorway. Is eels.

 

Once, when the rain          said      too much

this river wanted out        wanted          nothing of       riparian clichés

climbed up out of itself        swallowed

fields                 roads                        factories

took to joyriding              abandoning            cars in strange corners

broke and entered houses           tested the weight               of itself on stairs

occupied cellars            declared              a manifesto      of unclean things

 

This river needed           to be made an example of

so they cut down           the trees

did for the birds t          he fish

restrained it insid           e walls

put this river firm           ly back in its place

in public this river          has nothing to say about this

 

to itself this      river says, bide your time

the slightest of        weeds cleaves concrete