ode to river

— Miguel Barretto García

               when there is water          the river is a direction—
leaves          freshwater fish          and swimming bodies
               of children          pulled          by a thousand thin ropes of blue

whoever comes to its mouth          becomes mythology—
               air          wanting to breathe          rattle into a chorus of cicadas
droplets of rainwater          abandoned in trees          grow bodies

               of solid shadow          lit by moon and fireflies—          fireflies
are borrowed frequently          by ghosts          on the riverbed
               my grandmother is pulling her hair          stroking each

strand until she has calmed          each current of keratin
               while smoothening          her creases of wrinkle          her skin
is milked          she has no children          she is herself a child

               watching the tall grass rustle          and the wind          grow
a tail          my grandmother watches time          float in
               the river          its body moving          by measuring length

like hair          growing           split ends          like the river
               branching in many directions          of time—          each flow
a different pace          each current a different unit of life

               in this life          my grandmother wants none          of time
but herself          how everything and everyone          are
               moving in the same direction          how the body

is rivered          impulsed by age          my grandmother
               instead—          wants to bed the evening          to sleep
like her children          she steals away          her body

               and goes          in the opposite direction          when
there was          water          my grandmother          sits on
               the softest loam          before it dries back into          skin

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