The River-Elegy-1

24 April 2023


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Written as part of a Method Writing class with Jules Swales.
Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, Number 1.

The River:

The river, I am
sourced in the inscrutable sea of silent eternity,
cooled dancing molecules,
invisible gas leached from placid bedrock,
erected from the core of Life.

The dreaming sea surrendered me
from her watery bosom,
overflowed her wet bounty
Into a landward tributary.
And there I was, the River I.
The Scorpion’s sting. A water sign fixed to earth.
Beholden to air. Fire hidden.

I trickled over mudded beds
wore polish off speckled stone
carved stiff banks of soft edges.
My ribbon
meandered into form
drawn by gravity
splintered to brooks
babbled tongue a separate truth.

Sweet mother
Why impregnate?
When you knew
Lady Madonna, you knew
You cursed the River I
With the force of Love
Marked the year of the Snake
On my forehead
With Chrism
Even as you saved me
In the waters of Baptism.
Crazy Love

My mother booked
My flight to moth
Death to flame
Even as she bore down
To expunge the River I
On a gutted push
Of blood and mucus.
She called the curse love.
Crazy love.

Young mother,
why have a child?
Birth certificates are death sentences.
Signed, sealed, delivered.
In between, the River I
Must roll, must roll, must roll
Beneath nights of fire
A dispassionate moon and
hot stars that blink not.
Unmoved by the drum
Of flumes.
Crazy Love.

A virgin river, I was unprepared
To engorge with rain
To snarl with thunder.
To dash droplets, mizzle against unmoved boulders
A break of current crushed
by the sweat and moan of libido.
Crazy Love.

I mocked futility
The River I encircled
In the island of a priest.
Shaman lover,
Devotee to Gaia
He surfed
On a Turtle Shell
Under bowed willows
To stay afloat
In swift currents
Of libidinal urgency.
Crazy Love
Twigs of fogged mountains
The ice of a snow-filled sky
A road, blackened fate
A guard rail punched the death trap.
Snagged the float of his kindness
Snatched him
In the blink of Christmas
Into burial ridges.
Divine destiny
Crazy Love.

His coffin rests
Under the Sycamores
Out of the reach of rivers.
But the River I,
rolls still,
The Monongahela
River of fallen banks
Every day farther
From the dreaming sea.
One day I will reach land
a lost creek
And slip the curse
Of Crazy Love.

Copyright 2023: Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D>
See also: Yearning:Elegy-8
Check out my program for writers: The Writer’s Sanctuary
Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

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