by Devreaux Baker
This river knows nothing but her name
She is the hard blue muscle
That pumps blood into the mouth of morning,
The woman who sits at the edge of sorrow
Grafting time into the shape of a clay pot or reed basket,
Insatiable with longing and filled with the ovaries of stars,
The mind of all things drawn to silt and sludge,
To pools and ferns.
Currents streak her back with a name that means dreaming fish
Where ripples of reed ducks and water rats pattern hieroglyphs
Against her wide green thighs.
She is the water that we shed as tears, scooped up by the hands of night
And poured into the throat of day, turquoise and lapis, emerald and jade.
The moon hums against her skin.
She knows nothing but her name rising as fog over fields,
Or sleeping in limbs of apple trees as the Eyeless One
Who spirals through a thousand lifetimes and dances Kali or Quan Yin.
Look, the animals are searching for their reflection in her face.
Even the God who sleeps curled in the belly of small creatures
Wakes up, slips on her mask of moonlight
And swims from this opening into Mother Ocean.
She splashes their bodies with moss and now they are snarled
In her net of fish scales and seal bone.
These are the knees of devotion,
The tangled roots of our lives coming to fruition.
The river is a mirror for our bodies.
She carries the planets inside her belly and hums the earth into being
So that our bodies, blooming with their fisted flowers of blood
Are filled with that song.
The River, who speaks in tongues, is born and dies
In the fissured cracks of our cells so that
We become the sleeping center of the shell,
The speck of sand turning into pearl.
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