HomeSouthern VoiceAlone at the Bend in the River

Alone at the Bend in the River

by Sammy Parker 

 

prologue

long     narrow gorge

jagged     raw

     crack in the world

 

I.

In afternoon’s wan, late-autumn sun and chilly breeze,

he takes the measure

of the river’s sinuous flow and all above.

Not exhausted but nearly so,

he feels the purifying sense of chosen isolation

beneath sky darkening to bronze

high above the narrow wedge of canyon.

He hears his mind’s voice descending

beneath staccato “kak” of peregrine falcons,

wind’s faint stir, muted slap of riffling water.

 

II.

The narrow curving strip, sand and rocks,

ends at water’s edge.

He sits motionless, focused

on silky rustle of bushes swaying

in the soft push of evening’s approaching air,

on gurgles and gentle furls of billowing water.

Deep, below it all, he senses a slow, faint pulse,

metronomic murmur,

the canyon’s heart—

 

but knows     of course     it has no heart

sensation his     his alone

he tries to understand how he is

     one with     yet so apart from

but cannot     so lets that go

 

Later, he stands and walks away

in the stiffening breeze,

taut, sharpening, inhospitable.

He hears sand scrunch beneath his boots,

the slight thrum of silence closing behind, around—

 

but knows     of course     silence is absolute

     not his

slight thrum     metronomic murmur

          of his own

    faint

    pulse

 

III.

he feels

 

elusive mystery

     of towering striated rock

     silty rippling water

          beneath the sun of changing seasons

the certainty of what he sees and touches and

     what he thinks he knows

 

he wonders

 

what will this place     this day     be and mean

when years from now

     with what perfection memory offers

he sits beneath an autumn evening’s endless dark

stars sharing air-refracted sparkles

     from light-years’ cold distance

canyon far away

descending still to rock-strewn sandy bank

     beside its river’s moonlit     constant flow

without him before and since and forever after

 

murmur

     of its own

          rippling water

murmur

     of his own

          faint

         pulse

 

alone beneath it all     absolute silence

 

Sammy Parker was born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina and is a longtime resident of Georgia. He taught English at Western Carolina University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has had poems published in multiple editions of the literary journals at both. He’s a U. S. Air Force veteran and worked in technical publications at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His poems have been published in multiple editions of Belle Rêve Literary Journal and in Red River Review, Appalachian Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review and the inaugural edition of Ponder Review.

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