'River' by Paul Hetherington | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

There was never an explanation
as to why he walked into the river,
took hold of a log
and floated away.
They found letters
but the love he expressed
in sometimes obsessive detail
was no explanation –
except, the coroner declared
that perhaps it indicated
'a lack of a grasp', etc.
Someone who saw him pass by
said that he was waterlogged;
another said he sat upright,
as if triumphant, and was singing;
a third (unreliable) party
stated that he rolled and turned
and was having trouble breathing.
The coroner said that 'unless a body', etc.
And, certainly there was a report
that he had, after all, survived;
had walked out of the water
near a remote village.
'It sounds implausible', the witness said,
who was rather bedraggled himself
with downcast eye,
'but he seemed to be smiling,
if shaking a little –
and appeared to be looking at something
not so far in the distance.
You know, like a thought
can sometimes hold a man.'


Paul Hetherington