The River Speaks -- A Prose Poem
Ambling through the gorge, changing moods with the wind, I wait for my children’s hands.
They will give me some more shards of time, shining pebbles at the bottom of my bed.
There shrimps and trout make their homes in the mud I carry along in my voyage
towards the big plunge. Fragile homes. Nothing ever is unchanged.
Fishermen and children look for a cool embrace I could only give when my music flowed unrestrained.
I was a musician for a long time catching the snapping sprig, the little whirlpool’s voice,
the child’s happy dive, the frog’s song, the fisherman’s slap on my face.
Yet, I have stopped playing. My anger rises white, I howl louder than the North wind and spit back the venom they inject in me.
The old man, lighting a cigarette on my bank, says “the river is white tonight”
and keeps a safe distance.
But they take away my power with steel arms and impersonal touch.
I give in, I give my all. They switch on the lights in their flats. Start the machines in their factories.
But forget what it feels like to cover their skin with my skin.
Once we were at peace and their laughter hovered on my body like butterflies.
Today they found a floating body in my waters. It was a girl’s.
Her red curls glued to her brow, her swollen lips, blue eyelids and bruised limbs said what people could not tell.
He hit her, time and again, with a stick, then with a hard fist. Her lips bled, her eyes were black,
her shoulders were shaking as she fell.
I soothed her in my green waters: she never came back, sleeping in the numbness of pain
and regret. I chanted and hummed, as she unravelled her life’s weft in the clouds changing shapes.
I captured them in my fluid net.
For miles I carried her along till she grew as strange and strong as a fen in a bog.
Then they came. Somebody whistled and yelled. A fisherman in his boat. The police. Curious people.
I grew cold. I wanted her body to dissolve, wearing off in my accepting body.
I wanted to be her comforting grave.
The girl and I, running together towards our last goal.
But no. They’d rather search for bits and pieces.
Somebody said they were carrying her to the morgue.
Fish, haul, touch, dissect her body.
"Ophelia" (1851) Painting by Sir John Everett Millais