When I let the river answer…

I guess the Garonne would choose Darrell Scott’s voice and sing,
I got this feelin this won’t be the same
—if I could get that bastard to answer.

I tried to crouch over the bank and dunk my head to my ears.
I tried to cup the river like a first communion.
I tried to rinse off deodorant & old sex,
but only heard the frogs chirping like dolphins.

A pilgrim stopped and asked, Que-ce que vous-faites îci? (What are you doing here?)
Ecrire… poetry, I said.
Comprend pas. (I don’t understand.)
Vous chantez? (You’re singing?)

To get the river to speak, I had to sing:
She’s been sleepin it off,
but some day she’ll come to

and it told me:

You’re both made of water, which may rise sharply at any time.
After the flood, life will teem from every crevice.
So drink.

  • Along the Garonne in Auvillar, France, a sign warns passersby that "The water may rise sharply at any time". Marilyn Kallet, our workshop leader, gave us the epigraph you see above and told us to walk down there, and listen. It didn't have anything to say until I started to sing.
  • In the 3rd stanza, "Pilgrim" refers to the those who travel along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, which runs through Auvillar. These pilgrims are memorialized with statues of differing styles in the town square.
  • Both lyrics (in the 1st & 4th stanzas) come from Darrell Scott's For Suzanne.
  • This poem was first published in One Trick Pony Review.