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The River

“And there we stood / looking out in silence / at the great river”

Published onJun 19, 2020
The River

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

And there we stood
looking out in silence
at the great river
too wide to swim across
though some might have tried
and drowned too young.
And our teacher stepped in
allowing her skirt to rise
to her hips like a cloud
with her inside, and
lifting her arms she beckoned
one by one to her side
where she blessed aloud
our baptism, not to God,
but to the waters,
and we the fish
that lived inside
and it inside of us,
"Forever and forever,"
she simply said,
"You are one."
And some laughed for joy
and some bowed their heads
and cried.

Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer and biographer of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen. His most recent work is Thoreau’s Lost Journal: Poems and Tu Fu Comes to America. He’s a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and director of Bottom Dog Press. He and his wife live along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio.

LARRY Smith:

Excellent point…the answers are there if we but listen.

Kit Staton:

This is lovely, Larry. Reminded me –– although tangentially –– of this Arthur Miller passage:

“I hope I have made one thing clear to this point –– and it is that society is inside of man and man is inside society, and you cannot even create a truthfully drawn psychological entity on the stage until you understand his social relations and their power to make him what he is and to prevent him from being what he is not. The fish is in the water and the water is in the fish.”       

Arthur Miller, "The Shadow of the Gods," in The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller [1996], Robert A. Martin, Steve Centola [eds.], p. 185.