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)