In the western distance,
Hendrick Hudson’s crew rolls
ten-pin balls, the native ghosts
having confirmed the literal
and figurative truth Mahicantuck —
The River That Flows Two Ways —
wasn’t yet a one-way float to Glory.
That’s the legend anyway.
But the white thunder eventually
rolled over the red man,
just as this afternoon storm
overruns Today, washing me
another step along this stony shore.
The flood tide of my youth
has changed course, drowning the fire
that blazed within this body
that cracks like thunder whenever
I fight its inevitable course
down this river, which now flows
only one way.
There’s a beat to the river,
as it plays its own music
through the valley,
as it imparted its pulse to mine.
You must stand by her side
to appreciate the sound of the wind
turning her to glistening corduroy.
The wales angle to her sandy hems
of shoreline, where the ripple
and the slosh of this living thing
lie somewhere—in being and sound—
between the stream and the sea.
My world’s grown so small
since I left her side. Like a grebe,
I took one last breath, a dive
and, with a heave of wings,
watched myself shrink on her mirror face,
as we drew apart, our heartbeats
grown dissonant with the distance,
and I lost my way somewhere between
a-three and a-four.
Catch-up day for Poem-A-Day April. This is poem #23 and once again a sigh about no longer walking, as a poet would, with the Hudson at my side.
Autumn on the Hudson, by Jasper Francis Cropsey, 1875
I miss those times we’d walk side by side,
the breeze, your breath, brushing
my face softly as I inhaled you.
I’m afraid I’m misplacing us among
so many of my memories, losing you
to fog-bound years, to our time apart.
To forget those days we touched,
how we turned gray and then white together,
how you always would echo back
to the vision of how you looked
the first time I saw you, would leave
my soul dry as a forever drought.
You’ll never know the many times
I spent watching you as you’d lie there
and I sat transfixed, dreaming,
at your bedside. The train would sound
in the distance and I knew my time
had come. But always I would linger.
You’ve been the route by which feelings
finally came upon me and emotions
floated away, the coursing blood
in my history, the ink in my pen.
Carve your scar deeper into me,
Great North River, heart-blood of empire,
companion, inspiration, muse.
Never let me go.
A poem of my personal and artistic relationship with the Hudson River, one I fear fading into a sad distance with age and geography.