Long reach river


for my father


I watch you sitting there,
eyes closed, not sleeping.
You have returned to those maple hills
where the Susquehanna River flows.

You see the wooden steps you cleared of snow,
the gap beneath for winter wood,
the sleepy porch, your mother rocking babies,
hear the old jalopy weaving home
from the speak-easy.

Smiling, you remember a young kid kick
a tin can down the dusty track to town,
jump aboard the spinning carousel
carved white horses, gemstone eyes.

And you remember how you ran
the night your mother died,
first for the doctor then the priest,
tied a tourniquet around your grief,
a swollen river rising, kept on running.