the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Mary Legato Brownell

Saving Billy Collins from Drowning

Out of a lifetime of reasonable aptitudes
a knack for carpentry, for example, or my personnel skills,
the ability to identify focal points on walls, I'm told, or
the way I move furniture, or undo attention,

I still arbitrate that culpable distance between what I think
and what I imagine,

like that afternoon in Lambertville the last Saturday
in September. Rain had patterned across the scrub islands
and currents in the river. I'd driven an hour north from Trenton
to stop for coffee, to read Ballistics,

and set its slim build on the edge of the roof of the car,
too clumsy and sudden to stop the angle
of its curbside thud,
its lathe-like pages quickly soaked and bruised to the meter,

and didn't think but to apologize to him,
to his mischievous and punctual poems, to his titles,
and to his stanzas, complete and poised
for their own perpetual doubt.



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