Childhood Rivers

You must approach them slowly, for they are
rimmed with green fur and slippery stones. The smell
of them rises up and you walk through it,
like velvet curtains parting. The pebbles clank
beneath your feet, and dragonflies sail by, purple-
blue and iridescent, and the fur stirs in the green
water, and tadpoles waggle through, and leeches
and sucker fish try to grab your toes, and the air
above the water opens like a promise that will be fulfilled
over and over in your life, this mix of danger and solace,
fear and sudden joy, as if you could become part of the river
and at the same time rise above it on your dragon-dark,
rainbow-silvered wings.


How Long Should You Look at the Earth’s Face?

Until you have memorized it, feature for feature, so
you can remember it, like your mother’s voice
in the room of your skull, speaking to you for the last time
over the phone, saying, “Are you happy?” Until
you are dumb with astonishment at having been given
so much: waterfalls, the ocean of air, insects
consumed with the world of insects, the sacrifice
of blossoms, fruit that ripens and dies.
Until you know that no matter what other life you live,
you will remember the smell of river water,
the chemical odor of ozone after rain, the solidity
of objects and the shadows that follow them,
food in your mouth, skin against your skin.