From This River, When I Was a Child, I Used to Drink
But when I came back I found that the body of the river was dying.
"Did it speak?"
Yes, it sang out the old songs, but faintly.
"What will you do?"
I will grieve of course, but that’s nothing.
"What, precisely, will you grieve for?"
For the river.  For myself, my lost joyfulness.  for the children who will not know what a river can be—a friend, a companion, a hint of heaven.
"Isn’t this somewhat overplayed?"
I said: it can be a friend.  A companion.  A hint of heaven.
Mary Oliver, Red Bird: Poems (Beacon Press, 2008)

From This River, When I Was a Child, I Used to Drink

But when I came back I found
that the body of the river was dying.

"Did it speak?"

Yes, it sang out the old songs, but faintly.

"What will you do?"

I will grieve of course, but that’s nothing.

"What, precisely, will you grieve for?"

For the river.  For myself, my lost
joyfulness.  for the children who will not
know what a river can be—a friend, a
companion, a hint of heaven.

"Isn’t this somewhat overplayed?"

I said: it can be a friend.  A companion.  A
hint of heaven.

Mary Oliver, Red Bird: Poems (Beacon Press, 2008)

Notes

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