the river swells in her bed, an ocean
trapped in an earthy body. the rains
haven’t stopped all summer; violence
ripples in her skin. on the right shoulder
of the bridge, an ambulance
idles flashing. 20 feet ahead, the water
rescue team is parked, bright red against
gray concrete. men
lean into the rail, searching,
their whole minds in their eyes,
scanning movement for movement,
pushing the churn of fear
down behind only: see.
there is a faith in this, whatever
they believe at home on a Sunday.
a blind looking, in hope.
one gets a message
on the radio at his hip.
they climb back in their trucks.
there is nothing
but current below, wild ever-dance
of waters downstream. a sadness
in the way the ambulance pulls
away, its lights extinguished.
From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.
The roar of the rapids as loud as the drizzle is soft.
Wanderers in slickers flick past,
fingers numb, barely looking.
Oh but you can see them,
the Great Blues, hopping
lonesomely from stone to stone
amid the rush of white water,
nests cold and dizzying and far.
Overhead, there is no rumble.
The tracks stand sad sentinel, drip
down to the worn pages
where Walt marks his yawp,
there, under the trestles,
above the river and the wastewater and the burnt-
out campfires, unrivaled in the rain.