Alone at the Bend in the River
by Sammy Parker
long narrow gorge
crack in the world
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.
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,
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
slight thrum metronomic murmur
of his own
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
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
of its own
of his own
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.