A River is Not a River

The river where I used to live
is not a river, but the gravity
of exile and retreat. And, my children,
who live there, are not my children,
but the gravity of rings that slip,
where I pull. They circle the banks,
reforming; their leaving is always
my returning. So, I understand
the dark scroll of the river,
and write with black blots of ink,
and these, they are not birds. However,
I cannot help their thin pale lines that descend.
I can only stand here so long, under them — so
let’s climb the trail up to the old garage,
where old wires string through slices of light,
ride the ceiling’s roads of asphalt tile.
And from the standing darkness,
hear old words emerge, like rats. Then, ask,
do birds ever hear that their song is not
anything, but a song?

ph. 9/1/17 (Perth County, Wellesley, Toronto, Ancaster)

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