At Once the River                                                                                                                        



When her breath became a sigh     we entered     incandescent

two bodies cut flat     dark water     warm     embracing each pore

deepness     a thrill     loosening our grip     I touched her hand

it stained my own    twilight colours     she said     she spoke in shreds

eternity filled each lisp and slur     I listened     host and guest

till the river became our saviour     and slumber:    my Lord 



her hand was ancient as water itself     ankles knees belly waist

the river swelled to meet her lips     what shadow is this

that spills me here     bitterness dripped from the tips of her hair

she smiled once and then forever     as if meeting a forgotten lover

what shadow is this that links me so     a warmth     familiar

as a scent remembered     a breath     fleeting    

a river     sliding     the whole of it beyond her reach

as might an echo     in mist



how long did she sleep     certainly not an eternity   

after all     she’s here     is she not     as miracles go

a river might turn into a sea of milk    this one’s blood

and fire howling     she strips to her feet     follows her steps

to the river’s edge     and leaps     eyes raging

Rosie’s no different from fire or water     this she knows    



everything     the room     bed     her hands and thoughts

dissolved in sound     a roar     a storm     in a bell jar’s grip

and poof      she’s ankle-deep in tears     the river wails

to no avail    she’s deaf     and only feels a body’s slip

deeper and deeper     the water fills her emptiness

and leaves her tender as a new-born nymph



dusk or dawn     whichever     sun’s an abstraction

the ferryman too     there is a bank     and on it she kneels                                                                

this is no river     her thoughts stir like bubbles rising

the morass is thick of them     each shoulders a murmur

kiss your index     to feel its presence     no finger     no lips

breathless comes the ferryman     breathless she steps in