How to Enter the River

by Jeanie Thompson

Now the singing of the river is his.
He has opened his eyes and each tree
in its green integrity
bows as he moves past.
Beneath him, around him
the water is a muscle,
a heart of jewels spilled over rock.
He’s forgotten his hand on the paddle,
his arm dips and pulls, guides the boat
to enter the river, unnoticed.

He keeps his back turned
as his children pry effortlessly
through the rapids,
sure of their skill, that they feel
where the boat must go.
Still, there is a sadness
in his straight impassive back,
as if by turning from them,
he insures they will go on
paddling forever, forever his,
here among lighted waters,
flexing, opening around him
in song.

Poem reprinted, by permission of author, from White For Harvest, River City Press, 2001.