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The Lost River

Michael Redhill


I

The streets and gardens
have closed over it, a wire
vanishing into a tree. The Iroquois
had a name for it, but I don't know that name
now, only know its underground path
from the willow near your house.
After a cold, heavy rain it can seep up
like blood through a bandage,
leaking into the street. The lost river
wants to find its old level. But mostly,
we encounter its ghost: an imprint
left in a bellied curve scooped out of the park,
tombstones crowning its head
near the airport cloverleaf.

II

The body does not continue,
but buries itself in flesh. Old cuts
burrow, lie under skin
like arrowheads. There's a silky
patch over your knee where a nail went in.
Its thin iron puncture spread
to a stop-motion ripple
picture of a fish leaping, stilled.
Our own thin tributaries
bear healing up, carry off decay,
leave their whorls and furrows.
A blue translucence
stays on the surface.

III

At Harrison Street, we're standing
under the pale willow, the mourner
who won't leave the graveside. Under here,
its roots reach down, bring a dead voice
green into the air. We draw water, sit in the bath.
What washes off us drains to where the river
remembers our secret life: there, a willow
grows from my wrist, your hand
tips into the lake and the water flows
down your arm and through your fingers. The river
had a name for us, but we don't know that name
now. Our bodies in the bed sculpt the cleft
the river left in the park.



Michael Redhill's works copyright © to the author.


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