The Poet to Her Poem

Make of my elbows small pebbles rolling
the river bottom, a fierce and pummeling sweep.

If you will, build of my limbs and trunk
the supple breast and weight of the water.

Of my hands, eels, my ears
twin leeches sucking sound,

already these feet are two swift fish
flicking the shadowed pull of current.

Of eyes and mouth, shape glints and echoes,
sunlight and voices under the bridge.

If you can make of me water’s muscle,
then perhaps you can float:

lay your head where the shoulder of the river rounds,
where the heft of it bends and pools,

hear a river’s shifting joints and taste summer
licked from the lips of a swimmer.

Be sure to tell all the tales—laughter and the drownings—
what I have taken and what I leave behind:

whole lives, wide banks strewn with smooth stones,
the yellow foam of pollen painting the shore.


Late Summer, Merced River

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
—William Blake

The tracks of a Labrador retriever
marked the granite slab where she hauled
her thick body from the body

of the river. Pads of her paws inked
the flecked stone. The dog shook,
and shards of light landed dark.

What love holds itself to its landings?
The arches of summer shimmer. Flung
stars clasp the heat of the day.

They are rising now from the boulders
where all spring the river rode high,
carving its own slick saddle.