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River

by
November 2007, no. 296

River

by
November 2007, no. 296

The mouth of a little fish had just sipped away a star
from the river, and a lyrebird was opening the day,
volunteering to be a bell. We were watching an egret

prod at the nutrient dark, its beak one tine of a fork
catching what floats, just as the sun began cracking
the trees awake. The bird’s song reached us, then it

sharded into the river’s cold glass. You thought you
heard it again in the eddying backwash. A frog began
to ratchet, self-correcting like a clock, then our boat

swung away on the revolutions of its propeller. Water
adjusted its slap, displacing the sound in the cutaway
rock, the egret lifted into a sun-shaft and a crow flew

down to make another slain-in-the-spirit human sound
We found hooks enough to load our lines, heard a bird
meet then counter the wind when it stashed the swish

and crack of a branch inside its call. You said our
little bird would always cry above the tide-line – sad
and regretful about having to leave this river behind.

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