The Last River.
Why did it come at dawn, dream so haunting it won't fade for
days now it's here inside?
The last river should come at dusk, ablaze with shreds of sunlight,
upward from deep lightless layers of earth toward riffles, pools,
willows, birdsong, sky.
Back some rough mountain road lost in timber, down a canyon trail, final
the last river should call me with distant suspirations, indecipherable
but audible long before I arrive at its banks, out of breath, my heart
in love and fear for what I might find there, that last river left to
me, filled with light.
I should stand watching, long and patiently, as water spills along the
pooling at the bends, surface slick and calm, threaded with white foam,
mayflies, small caddis
lifting from lambent red, gold, and blue film, trout rising, all things,
it seems, ascending.
I should hear an owl hoot, and mourning doves, a woodpecker hammering a
I should hear, above, a river of wind in the high pines and blue spruce,
I should not ask. I should forget the sea, river slow then lost in vast
I should abide here, silent, listening, breathing the crisp rich air,
its sharp sweet sap.
No one here. I should reach the last river alone, without promise,
I should find fiddlehead ferns unfurling, tracks in soft black mud,
small white bones, nothing.
I should expect the night to come to pass slow, cold, fitful, attended
by strange dreams,
sounds of animals visiting the stream, touching their soft lips to the
splashing off fast when they first catch my scent, odd funk stinging
their dark frightened bright eyes.
I should light a fire by the last river, my mate for the night, an ember
which should come blue and gold, so beautiful I know no better day will
break for me.
Yet the last river will not make me sad. The last river will last me
and I will welcome it, it will welcome me as I strip and step in,
slowly, and sure.