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River Story

Don Hynes

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From a cleft in sharp rock

in the high country

water emerges from the mountain

to shine on lichen and wet a small stream

where swifts and marmots drink.


Gathering strength and falling,

brown rocks glisten, birds gather,

fish appear in circling eddies,

one stream reaching into another,

merging in deep ravines

to fall out over stone ledges

alive with sunlight and oxygen

into the confluence.


Now river bears the weight,

rolling great stones along the bottom,

feeding fish on their many paths home

with herons tall and brooding along the banks.

Hawks circle above the broad stripe of water,

the grasslands alive with rich bottom.


Joined and joining, slopes easing

until the broad flats of sand and silt

where the original people once lived.

Beside painted rock and towering fir,

between city walls and tall glass spires,

out onto the broad reach

miles from shore to shore


where the bar meets the sea

in one ever-changing wave,

towering against the tide

with stories of mountain,

crow and coyote, steelhead

and salmon given to the ocean

with the joy of salt and sunlight

ravenous for all the river will tell.