The River Merchant’s Daughter: A Letter

By | 1 December 2022

While I in sandpits sat, dug holes to China,
Walked home from school, green backpack, shoulders bouncing,
Penknife in hand, you’d pace the forest’s heart—
Pick berries, dream revenge against the killers.
We grew on separate, split by small sea-water,
Two lengthening children, pre-desire, regret.

At fourteen your eyes loomed large, closed round, white-moon.
I longed to duck my head and instead stood,
Not knowing my mouth must move––
Kept air beneath my bow, above the string:
Risked not one mis-stepped sound, false frictive note.

Discarding clothes compared to this was simple,
A bed I’d swum, blank-white, sea-bright, since birth.
Asked me, a thousand times, I never answered—
Thought bodies outgrew words, had not yet learned
Of Satan’s fall, smote on him sore,
His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced,
Thick as autumnal leaves strowing the floor,
Kindling a sea of flame, the once-cool brooks in Vallombrosa
Leaping, furnace-forged, white-hot, red-gold,
Vaulted with fire. So I was but did not know,
Nor could look down, nor could forewarn, nor could feel awe.

At fifteen from my mouth outpoured a river.

At sixteen you crossed the wildest ocean,
Didn’t drown in shock-storms or tsunamis.
Five months gone: the native birds still pierce the air,
Their shell-beaks pick, necks pink with frosting.
They don’t turn back
But walk forwards through the grass,
Mouths pressed earth-down.
No arms, just legs and throat.
White crests like wind-topped waves.
Grey tail-wings uselessly at rest.
I did not believe your words.

The jacarandas bloomed more fulsome than before,
Purple flowers filled
When I was small and I was whole.
It’s too late now to hear their bullet fall.
The rain has washed all through one month of autumn.
The new year’s children climb on wooden benches,
They topple on the ground, forget they cry.
Am I light like them?
Their voices hurt me.
I grow older.

If you are sailing backwards down the river,
Rewinding the ocean you left upon,
Seeing caps white glare blue, so bright, you must avert your eyes,
Hear this, the water’s sound.

My father said after you’d gone: forget it wholly.

I remember now only his age-long care
Which ceaselessly returns, like winds cross oceans
Which earth’s aeons’ mountains onwards range.

This entry was posted in 107: LIMINAL and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

  • No Related Posts Found

Comments are closed.