(reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press)
god's anger called his rivers all and told them to let
river horses run wild as they ever would, and the
rivers flooded the great plains . . .
As breezes lap the shallow-tugged tide flow
And swallows twitter and skirt the dusk,
We lie within the wreckage of the stars—
The moon spill, our planet's pull—this sad machine.
With you sleeping against my chest,
Having drifted off as Venus began to blaze,
I feel my father's heavy breath bear
Down against my cheek, a finger toward the comet's tail:
Like a damn flashlight looking down, he said.
For three nights we watched it, then that light was out.
So we steered by the swirling mathematics
Of whiskey and revenge, the business of getting,
Then of letting go. Stars gather in the sky like rain—
Dizzy atoms that collapse, collide:
In our dream the dead of Friendship, Texas,
Stand on the shore of their once-town singing:
Let the river
Let them run . .
Once, in America, in full nakedness,
Our family rivered these lands with abandon—
From Moravia to Galveston to Friendship, Texas—
Their wild seeds sown, their hearts full of leaving,
They longed to stay: Abide, Abide, Reside—
But the tide comes to meet us and also to take us away:
When the dam was built to swell the rich towns south,
The flood spilled over . . .
the river horses run . . .
Valentinian speculation holds
That our souls, as light, are drawn to the waxing moon
Which then, upon the wane, delivers its freight
To the darker dark beyond—electrons
Finally freed into streams of gravity
Gone wild: while alone
In the dust of Palestine, sad Luria
Watches as God withdraws and so the world arises.
the river horses run
Let them run . .
If, as has been said, it is our very love of God
That separates us from Him, can't we say
That the names we sketch on the churning atoms
Of this world's things, while keeping us apart,
Allow us also to love? Isn't this enough,
The shadow that we know a swallow by?
The tide flows in, the moon spill: let's
Hymn down the river, witness the wresting away:
If America drew us to a destiny of desire,
It was the outfall of a single star stunned,
Our sweet metals and machines: so
Return, exile, then return again:
Want no more than water does, low places
To dwell and the gravity to change.
And if you, too, are lost one day in loss itself,
May you trace a bird amid the mess of stars—
May you name it as you wish—
Seven-Star Bird, Lover, God—
And may its wandering guide your own.
the river horses run, Let them run,
Let them run wild
as they ever would . . .