There is no such thing as a river
the word you call me is simply a place where waters
I am no more a thing unto itself than is ocean, air,
When a swallow dips its beak for a drink.
The sky bends down to kiss my surface
and this moment is reflected, like a tale told twice in
joy, wrinkling the cloud's face.
All rivers are not metaphors, nor similes;
forget what you have heard: I am life--and what
doesn't become something new as it empties into the
ocean to weep salt?
If not fate, or some magnanimous hand,
what made the waters that you bend down to touch?
Did the waters make themselves? Did the salmon
return to their ancestral beds by accident?
All words about rivers ultimately fail us:
listen to the sounds of the water passing over the
rocky bottom in the rills;
isn't that the word that spoke us all into being?
In the end, you come to me for the same reason
the salmon do:
God tips you back into yourself when you seek Him.
Anyone who leans too far out over the water to see
himself must finally fall through into the depths
for an answer.
-- David Holper, from his recently published first book of poetry 64 Questions. Holper, a College of the Redwoods English professor, will be reading from the book and signing copies at Accident Gallery this Saturday, Feb. 28. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., reading begins at 7:45 p.m. The Accident Gallery is at 210 C. St. in Old Town between 2nd and 3rd streets. You can buy the book there.