Today's poem is by Dionisio D. Martínez

Did We Betray the River

Did we betray the river or did the river betray us? You've noticed, I'm
sure, how, under certain conditions, a ladder leaning on a wall is a draw-

bridge waiting for a sailboat that keeps delaying its journey, calling
the man who operates the bridge, layering elaborate excuses so neatly

that the man only hears one excuse: the boat's coming, just not yet, not
while the water's in control of the situation. The man waits—drawbridge

up, traffic on hold. Sometimes the world is all patience and silence
and there is nothing you can do to stir up trouble. The driver who keeps

a knife beneath the seat is tapping on the dashboard a song coming from
another car. This is an exception. Others are praying to their private

rivers, as if the one just ahead were not there: seeing is too easy: one
acquires increasingly complex needs, like the taste of earth just

turned by oxen who know the plow as well as a man knows his river. We
know this blue's an illusion: the things that shelter us are colorless and

hover just so, not quite halos and not quite hats, and they can all be named
even if the names are arbitrary, even if they're not quite words. Our boat

waits for the water to go from blue to brown to ocher, as in a Turner
vision—a realism so crude it borders on beauty, the way beauty

was meant to touch us: with its repulsive allure, its unwashed mirrors of
heavy morning fog. We have to look head-on, and learn to forget again.

Copyright © 2005 Dionisio D. Martínez All rights reserved
from Quarterly West
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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