the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Jeanne Murray Walker

Notes to Yourself

You stumbled — remember? — on these stones,
gashing your knee, your bright blood seeped
out, and breakers hissed impermanence.
                                                  The ocean frowned before you fell asleep
under the sun's fierce eye. Still, morning air
felt bountiful and warm against your thighs.

Guard that sleeping child as if you were
her mother, reading on the sandy rise
beside sea oats. Come noon, put down your book,
take her in your arms, and carry her
indoors. Remember how your mother picked
you gently up, folded up the ocean,
tucked it safely under one arm, poured
the beach into a jar, and carried it all home?


Mobile: Study of Children with Escape in Mind

Three ceramic speckled turquoise fish
hang in the window above our kitchen sink,
like miniature canoes sequestered on a beach
of clouds all winter. Simple as a drink
of water.
                             You reach and flick the faucet
to fill a tumbler. You trust the bright arch
of water through strong pipes. You almost forget
how things can shatter.
                             Then March
arrives. Wild wind drives the fish to shriek
with glee. You hang them on the porch. They nudge
each other with blunt noses. Soon they'll be gone,
you know it, swimming through the trees —
never mind the fence around your lawn.



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