If this modest river is different
every time I see it, why not
build a dam and cure its rage
to continually reform itself?
Even under a skim of ice,
its righteous flow asserts itself
and shames my gradual slippage
through the interstices of age.
You rarely hear me speak aloud
anymore, but read my thoughts
the way I read the black current
fulfilling the angst of gravity.
In the café with certain friends
beaming around us you ply
your conversation prowess
in the richest possible flow
while I slip into my coffee
to drown a lifetime of being shy.
The present-tense lacks genius,
lacks a foothold on the slope
that has steepened since my birth.
When I look into the dark shallows
flowing through absolute cold
or hear you parsing politics
with a surgeon’s bristling word-hoard,
I feel slight enough to bookmark,
with a child’s absolute certainty,
a moment in a rough-hewn life.
Tomorrow I’ll forget this urge
to pin myself to a paper chart
and dangle like a pelt. For now,
though, the dark waters flow and flow,
and so does your conversation,
which no more than the river
would accept my intervention,
not even with a brittle smile.