River Story Poem – This Book Is a River

This Book is a River is a river story poem, a reflection on nature and on how nothing and no one exists in isolation at any time. 

This Book Is a River – a river story poem

This book is a river that gently
makes its way down to the sea, dives in
and disappears. And it’s the stone-age woman
whose foot got caught between the rocks where the
water sallied just like it was his hand passing me
a glass of milk for my brother with the chapped knee.
I no longer catastrophize since the day she veiled my back
after he had heard it crack and seen the floodlets
on my shoulder blades. Talk is never cheap.
Every stitch, every border, every street corner
is a page with a love scene on it.
Take page fifty-seven or the day
someone picked up my litter and didn’t tut-tut.
Or the beginning of winter
when the smouldering sod of turf
the neighbour had cut on the bog in July
had the cat purr so sweet we had to laugh. How can
anyone say paths crossing isn’t as sweet as
the puppy Dad brought home one day out of the blue
and we kept falling over each other snuggling him?
Page ninety-nine is an offshoot, it’s down from where
the river splits, one arm toward the meadow,
the body nursing a valley as far as the lake.
That chink in the skin was always going to need watering
the loose rocks and worms, the dangling roots and
the woodpecker’s hole drew drop after drop till
on page one hundred, they cross words
and tick off riddles that had spun and spun.
Between page one hundred and seventy-eight
and one hundred and seventy-nine, the poppy I pressed
with my bestie Coco in third class the day my nose
hit the tarmac on the schoolyard. Clad in see-through film,
she’s as red and leafy as the meadow anemone
bordering the pages and taking the story away
down another rill in this system of rivers.
Every trickle shores up some widget or critter
like me or you or her or him weighing in behind
the thread of the story that is this book or this river
rippling over the pebbles until the heart swells
to the size of a house, we can live in.

 

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Written by Anita Alig

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