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The Six Things a River Might Say, If It Were to Speak




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

    living thing

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.

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