If the river stood still it would
become a mountain.
Built on the backs of mallards
and trout. Their bodies etched
in stone; we dig them out
and blow the dust off. Rebuild
their existence in code, digital preening,
virtually nesting in the shade by the bushes,
gliding on invisible currents we transmit
to one another every moment of our lives.
We cut it back for aesthetics, but
it will always grow. We always come back
despite the butchering. Flowers
mimic bugs mimic
branches mimic branches mimic
bugs. Design isn’t so different,
my skin spotting in the sun, so I can sink
into the sand and wooded places. The edges
we use most often harden and yellow.
We too can run on stone.
We too migrate over oceans.
Go south for winter. Hunker
down and hibernate.
We too call out desperately
for mates, pray our voices rise
over the din of engines and radios
and seeds spiralling through the air.
We hold tight to the backs of butterflies
to be carried somewhere fertile
and stable, where our needs will be fulfilled.
We welcome the dark
thriving worms. Leave them
under our nails. The sheen
of river feathers. A crackling exoskeleton.
The lichen children scrape and drop.
The ground it’s all based on. The ground
it all comes back to. The sources
we cannot escape. The rushing water
taken for granted, scales skillfully
sweeping the surface, breaking the tension,
a wooden spoon laid over a boiling pot.
We touch the surface for stillness.
Press our palms down to release
the excess, counting backwards
from ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five.
Stopping halfway because
we know the ending. It dumps out somewhere.
An aqueduct or colander. A headlong
waterfall, sharp turn, sharp breath, collecting
hair from the drainpipe. The inevitable
footpath tread next to concrete.
Our bones craving softness.
We are worn down
layer by layer, no need to relay this
message. We will hear it
no matter what. The subtle
budding despite months of ice.
We want to be wind
weathered, but soft to touch; a mountain
pulled apart by shifting plates, slowly
becoming a river again.