BY THE ANDROSCOGGIN

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The Androscoggin flows, cliff-sheltered,
hidden by a thickness of great pointed firs,
so we cannot see it from our windows
though we know it’s there. Sometimes we hear

after a freakish torrent of hard rain
its rushing over rocks—the ones we hop
when crossing—and we’re sidelined for awhile.

The local ducks, deer, foxes, skunks
don’t seem to mind; they let the river
have it’s way—grow wider, deeper,

curving slippery as silk over the falls,
roaring down to swirls of sudsy turbulence
then calming to black pools of mystery.

Only the hand that winds the clock of thought,
the sleepless eyes that worry out the window,
know an urge to push the river toward the sea,

while among the firs, small bright eyes
caught on the dark like stars fallen to earth,
watch, and don’t agree or disagree.
.
.

47 responses »

  1. You’ve painted a great picture of your local river … and a picture that is applicable in other areas. Love the way that nature deals with nature …. thus without the human factor of seemingly unlimited analysis.

  2. Lovely, , I could hear and see the river. I especially enjoyed this evocative verse:
    “curving slippery as silk over the falls,
    roaring down to swirls of sudsy turbulence
    then calming to black pools of mystery”
    The following verse is a close second.
    These lines also evoke memories of the Pedernales and Pedernales Falls – one of my English brother’s favorite spots to visit when he crosses the pond to see his sister.
    You did it again! Jane

    • There’s something about watching waterfalls, isn’t there…like watching flames in a fireplace, too. Shearwater, the indie rock band I mentioned to Frank, above, was originally formed in Austin, so I’ve learned. I don’t listen to much rock music, but came across that one in the company of younger relatives. Like you and your brother, probably, I would opt for the sound of waterfalls! Cheerio, Jane

  3. Well, to begin with you have given me a geography lesson Cynthia! I looked up (hate the word ‘googled’ but that’s what I did!! the name of the river and found out it meets a larger one beginning with K, (short term memory loss!) at a place called Meryytime Bay. What a lovely name! And I found out where the name originates too!
    Anyway, on to the poem. You are a master/mistress (can never work out which is correct these days) of your craft; this is a star of a poem, all of it beautifully descriptive and then those last two stanzas, well! I was waiting for something towards the end because you always have something for us, and there it was! Wonderful.
    There is a connectedness with nature about this poem, something I have been reading about lately, or rather I have been reading about our dis-connectedness.

    • You are becoming so scholarly, Christine! πŸ™‚ But from your own writing I know how deeply you have come to value that connectedness….talking (as we both do) to trees, and teaching me about the cuddliness of bees….Thank you, as usual, for warming the cockles..

  4. Wow, Cynthia this brings me right back to the river – wonderful in your descriptive letting my mind see the images you so clearly define in your words. Just love the passage “Only the hand that winds the clock of thought, the sleepless eyes that worry out the window, know an urge to push the river toward the sea,” I feel the concern and feel the urgency of the situation.

    • Funny thing, Mary..that trying to push the river, struggling to make something happen, while things are actually happening of their own accord…as my dog and cats often remind me…it
      runs pretty strong in us humans, I’m afraid. Thank you so much for stopping by…I always look forward to the popping up of that favorite little red tulip!

        • Oh we are definitely influencers….every single one of us….and (maybe) especially those who can help others to see and understand…by means of paintings, poems, acts of compassion…but the urge to control the overview–that’s what can foil us in the end, I think.

  5. Only the hand that winds the clock of thought…small bright eyes
    caught on the dark like stars fallen to earth…

    Beautiful.

  6. “Only the hand that winds the clock of thought,
    the sleepless eyes that worry out the window,
    know an urge to push the river toward the sea,”

    That’s a beautiful aphorism in a lovely poem.

    • Thank you, David. You give that passage the name of “aphorism”, which surprised me….until I see that others also connect especially with those lines…it’s so very enjoyable to realize what readers think..I truly appreciate it!

    • Thank you very much, Karen. I’m always saddened to learn that people have been “left out” of the enjoyment/understanding of poetry, mostly because it means so much to me. I tend to blame it on the academics. Surely, a person with your native gift for visual art has the heart of a poet, in the more universal sense. Thank you again, for taking the time to read and comment!

  7. I like this poem a lot Cynthia.
    And that’s what we humans do, isn’t it? Push the river on. Even in old age when we think we’ve retired, and feel we’ve achieved the ‘sapiens’ attribute, we are still at it!

    • Ordinary mobility is becoming seriously compromised here, so I envy my coevals who can still go where and do what they have a mind to. (Which means you, John, world traveler, in New Zealand at the moment.) Diminished energy we should expect, I guess, and more poignant in a world where everything moves faster and faster……tough noodles for us river-pushing types. Take it easy…and thanks for taking the time to visit and read!

  8. Gorgeous. TOTALLY enjoyable when listened to: only the poet knows how to read her own words. I listen with my eyes shut, having read it first.
    More, please, Cynthia !!!!

  9. A pleasure to read at the end of a long day! Your poem brings me back to the rivers in my life, from childhood to now. The eyes at the end (the equanimity in the forest) are surprising and bring me to a place of sheer wonder both within the poem itself and beyond it, too. Beautiful!

  10. Hi Cynthia, your poetry always has so much to read and learn. It took me a while to find the peace of mind to read poems again and yours was one of the first I wanted to read and jump into esp. your look on nature, and how it changes so much, though nothing has changed, that time is indifferent while so much is going on. Rivers go their way, relentless. (I am not too familiar with rivers, but I did spent a Summer working on the Rhine cleaning cabins of a cruise ship πŸ™‚ The sweet heavy smell of the river was so different from the sea air! )

    • Ah yes…that sea air…I lived by the sea for a few years in the early 2000’s, and there’s nothing like that air, and that light! Where I am now is a different kind of natural beauty–lots of mountains, lakes, and rivers. I especially like the smaller rivers you can walk across, with cold, crystal-clear water that’s always gurgling over the rocks, always on the move toward bigger streams going to the ocean..and the fragrant scent of pine trees all around….the river knows where it’s going….only we find it hard, sometimes, to “go with the flow”…..Thanks for stopping by to read, Ina!

  11. This is a really beautiful tale of a river and it’s effect on the living thing around it – and wonderfully told too! So I’m guessing this nearby to you? A bit like Christine said you gave me a geography lesson Cynthia! I was never good at geography at school, but the internet has made so interesting, and a great pity no-one thought to teach geography in those days through a really great poem! πŸ˜‰

    That’s quite an alarming thought that you can’t see the river but can hear it, I really wouldn’t enjoy that, I’d like to see just how full it is an where that water was going. I can fully understand that wish to push the river out to sea! I live near a river too http://www.scenicnorfolk.co.uk/photos/norwich/river-wensum-city-hall.jpg but not nearly as large as the one you are talking of here. It has a flooded a few times many years ago and caused a lot chaos! Rivers are so beautiful but can so quickly become frightening. I live up a slight hill, so some advantage there, although it wouldn’t be good long term as the riverside road is the way to the city centre, where everything we need is!

    I wonder about the thoughts of those small bright eyes in the dark – do they worry? Maybe they don’t, or maybe like humans they vary in their anxieties? The ones with wings are the ones that have the advantage – too much river, time to fly! πŸ™‚

    • Hello Suzy…I love the photo of “your” river. I must say, my nearby river is much less civilized. Many years ago, when my summer job was to act as a lifeguard but also teach swimming lessons to the local children under a special government sponsored program by our town, life was very different from today. Though I was Red Cross certified, my venue was the local river (attained by hiking through farmland laced with cow patties) and our test for certified “Swimmer” a jump from the rocks and a swim across the deepest part. After a lifetime away from these parts I’ve returned and live not far from that river. It’s down the street (a new “development”) and somehow tamer than it was. I love your thoughts on the teaching of geography, and am contemplating the winged ones…how they can always fly to higher ground!

      • Ah, well the river becomes a lot less neat and tidy as it stretches out to a place referred to as ‘the broads’ no city at that point, all rural and quite a powerful looking river. I did the full trip on it many years ago, it’s lovely in summer, lots of swans with their babies trailing behind and bunnies with white fluffy tales scampering at lighting speed on the banks, and if you’re lucky maybe a sighting of deer too – almost a Disney experience! πŸ˜‰

        You were a lifeguard and teacher of swimming – oh you must have been a strong and excellent swimmer to do that?!! I used to love swimming as a child, but unfortunately was never a strong swimmer, I paddled a bit like a dog really! Still, I enjoyed it, dogs enjoy swimming like that!! πŸ˜€

        • The “dog paddle” is perfectly fine…keeps your head above water and gets you–albeit slowly–where you need to go. I have known dogs who could not swim, which was surprising to me because I assumed all dogs could…I still wonder how the dogs who do swim get much propulsion from those skinny legs… πŸ™‚

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