Riverkeeper

Margaret Gibson

Wanting to be that place where inner
and outer meet, this morning
I’m listening to the river inside,
also to the river out the window,
river of sun and branch shadow, muskrat
and mallard, heron, and the rattled cry
of the kingfisher. Out there is a tree
whose roots the river has washed so often
the tree stretches beyond itself, its spirit
like mine leaning out over the water, held
only by the poised astonishment
of being here. This morning, listening
to the river inside, I’m sinking into a stillness
where what can’t be said stirs beneath
currents of image and memory, below strata
of muons and quarks, now rushes, now hushes
and pools, now casts a net of bright light
so loosely woven there’s a constellation
afloat on the surface of the river, so still
I can almost hear it weave in and out—
interstellar, intercellular—and isn’t it
truly all one, one world, no in or out, no here
or there, seamless, as a lily about to open
from just here into everywhere, is. Just is.
Restful lily. Lucky lily. To bloom must feel
like a river’s brightening at daybreak,
or a slow kiss, a throb in the elapse of time,
a shudder of heron shadow flying over
shallows that are merely the apparent
skim of a depth whose bottomless surface
seeps everywhere, bloom and retraction,
an anchored flow that upholds city
and cathedral, bridge and gate,
Orion, odd toad in the Amazon, blue dragonfly,
what it is to love…. Spoil a river, you spoil all this.

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Margaret Gibson is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently Broken Cup, and a memoir, The Prodigal Daughter. Her second book, Long Walks in the Afternoon, was a Lamont Selection (now the James Laughlin Award) of the Academy of American Poets in 1982, and Memories of the Future in 1986 was co-winner of the Melville Kane Award given by the Poetry Society of America. The Vigil was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1993, and One Body was the winner of the Connecticut Book Award in 2008. A new collection, Not Hearing the Wood Thrush, is forthcoming from LSU Press in 2018.

Image

Number 96 / Spring 2018

Seattle, Washington

Center for Religious Humanism
Seattle Pacific University

Publisher & Editor: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Mary Kenagy Mitchell
Executive Editor: Suzanne M. Wolfe
Associate Editors: Roger Feldman, Jennifer Maier

Image was founded in 1989 to demonstrate the continued vitality and diversity of contemporary art and literature that engage with the religious traditions of Western culture. Now one of the leading literary journals published in English, it is read all over the world—and forms the nexus of a warm and active community.

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