River Again by Christopher Kondrich

Also, I must capture you in song. I must find music to set to this
aging and follow the river to my death. But it isn’t at the end,
the river says, now speaking, it is at its disappearance off the map

of words, which have guided me here. Sometimes when I quote
from what is etched into walls, I permit myself liberties, in the first
place, happiness, which means failing, invoking the terrible cloak.

Wear it in good conscience (river again). Wear it around me
completely on the banks and shoals and muddy spots of steps.
We zoomed in, river and I, under the rocks and hidden machinery,

and the English language balled up in my hands like hair.
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t say it true or false or failing
again, breath or wind. I trimmed a piece from you and kept it boxed.

Years later and with a kind of unraveling motion, I hold you
and am holding you now. It is a dark grounding birds,
snakes that I remember vividly for how they tasted

of mirrors. On the other side was written a jot, tossed off
to convince discoverers of its little care that wind would wind
a toy heart set beating. It read, “Soon after my tutor died,

I numbed, then felt a kind of leaving so strong I knew not
that I would soon have less possessions than I do now.”
No possessions, I thought, what a solitary nun.

They (sentences) have architecture for conversion.
If I wanted to believe in burning beacons, I could say so.
I could wait for those who know what beacons signify:

alone. Let me eat no more, nor find you as beautiful
as the day we married. You make it more difficult,
more like staying when I know I have to fade.


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