Today's poem is by Nance Van Winckel

When the River Comes Toward Me

it comes with whatever it's
sucked up on the way. Iron
stairs. Ice chests, stove pipes,
rocking chairs. It won't let me
make it kind or cool. Won't let me
sweeten it with my two aunts' breasts
floating before them as they stand
calling me into chest-high currents.

A renegade in March, by May
the river receives pardon—for cows
carried off, car roofs and tree roots.
Its black toothless gums grind past.
Anything anyone here
puts up, the river one day
takes down. Boils in its ice.

And no, I won't go in. No one
can stand there so simply. Yet
there the women stand with their four
unsinkable spheres of milk and marble
bobbing before them. Any one
could crumble a building.

Voices call in High Dutch
from the low country, and No,
I won't wade out there. No,
I won't lie back and stare into
over-hanging leaves that each
evening assume new colors just
to please what's filling fast
with stoves ladders sofas.
Chisels pencils hacksaws.
Black hats black leashes
black dogs. Don't make me look
or look away. The women laugh
the water's laugh, forgetting me
each time the fox steps down
and kisses the ripples
with his fine red mouth.

Copyright © 2005 Nance Van Winckel All rights reserved
from 5 AM
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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