- it’s not easy to say, this is a river,
- its surface green and on windless days
- without a ripple, and it is a river
- of muscle under a smooth, gray-green, rippling flesh of water.
- what did the Indians call it, I wonder? as they
exchanged, or tried to, directions to one another, wandering as
they did without seeming direction, curving and coursing across plains
and through mountains, some of them, themselves, worshipping
snakes as if, to scale, they were kindred and somehow related.
- who named this river, I wonder? a woman perhaps
would shudder at the thought of such a creature yet still be taken boating
on its surface, riding on top of its stretched out and elongated form,
and feel the force of this pliant along the inner aspect of her
thighs through the boat each time it swelled, although sexual
imagery merely suggests the surface.
- how many times have I seen it, or if I’ve
ever seen it, driving first with my parents to and from this
canyon to that, always and forever on our way (although this
is not an accurate depiction; it only seems so).
my father used to joke with Uncle Johnny, each of them crowing
that the other hadn’t sold as many curves to the highway department
which, in its ignorance, tried to build a major thoroughfare by following
the twisted river that often turned back on itself.
- I really remember it coming over the crest of the hill
on which crouch motel cottages where the river overflows its banks
and creates swamps out of which grow an occasional cottonwood,
marsh grasses and willows and through which vend snakes and other
watery creatures whose cold blood and smooth skin leave behind
a sensation of twisted slime although when out of water they are dry,
without a hint of moisture. on a frog or toad, however, are often
found bumps rising as a wart island would midstream.
- also I vividly remember it at the junction where the
greener Hoback empties into the gray-green, more traveled,
siltified Snake—a kind of rustic consideration.
- where does it go? where has it been? I wonder
as we lay on the floor curling and uncurling around each other
in a motion worn into our memory, a pattern of de-evolution
we return to again and again in moments like these and we ear each other out
as skin and I cry out at each smooth, rippled thrust of your body god,
god, god, in keeping with the eons and the desire to name.
- when do we turn back to ourselves?
- it is said the sun setting in the west will cause
a snake to die even if its mortal wound occurred in the east
at sunrise. a snake will live till it dies, is a saying,
and sometimes my hand, poised, is momentarily caught, wrist
drooping like a snake’s head when held against the pane
through which flows the mottled light from the sinking sun
and the moment, like water, passes into another form.