the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Robert Klein Engler

Later Flowers for the Bees

It must be this way. The cottonwood shedding
its leaves, the silent grief of autumn with the
maple tree, blood red and burning. Yet, don't
you wish it otherwise and we resume the tropic
lie of sunshine. When Moses asked the Lord for,
please, more time, the promised land fell from
his view, and his hand fell lifeless at his side.

When I see the oak tree go from green to tan,
then dry, I remember how the apple of my eye
fell into his grave at the end of a rope. When I
see the waste of leaves in yellow tides by my door,
I cannot help wonder at the unnamed millions
who never wanted to let go. This is why the rabbis
say the world turns from autumn into summer.

So it is that dumb nature cannot tell the long hurt.
Even if we fall to a drape of light, it's the fall we'd
rather miss. Maybe it will be a soft rape, the way
his lips left mine. Maybe it will be the bright fall
of an ax, maybe by the river, maybe in the rain.
Let the slow drip transfuse forgiveness. Let one
who held us up so far, let go. Let desire pass

like a vapor while love's dialog clings to water.
If it must be, then let it be easy, the way he looks
at her smooth legs as she ascends the escalator,
easy as a hand on a warm thigh, easy the way
angels roll away the stone. Gnat, butterfly and
bee come and go. Our breath that halts a flower
of words comes and goes, quickly comes and goes.

The cottonwood's leaves shimmer by moonlight.
Crows carry their argument from the bell tower
to the river, lost in the evening clouds. It is easy
to pray, knowing everyone feels their way into
the wilderness. Still, the mouse has no words to
turn away the hunger of the hawk in its glory.
Our reach is but a child who chases after birds.

A shroud of dry leaves covers the creek in umber.
The weightless could stroll across the water and
not sink. In the field, tumbleweed bends into the
crisp air, ready to begin its journey like a headlong
lover. Not much longer and the goldenrod will be
as dry as the thistle that punctuates the hedge.
The Son of Man is held from falling by his nails.



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