The Elders said I should talk to the river,
so I sit on the muddy bank and feel foolish,
tongue-tied, what should I say to this ancient being?
I love you I mutter in blunt English and feel embarrassed,
until I begin to comprehend that I need to be quiet,
to leave my hat, my clothes and shoes
discarded on the edge and slip
into warm water, brown as clay
sink beneath the surface into a myriad
of voices speaking in stone
speaking in lime, in sediment, in fish scales,
in rain coming down from other countries.
That it isn’t so much about what I say
but what I can hear and see
my self, shrunk to a pinpoint beneath time
beneath the walls of the sky
enveloped in something huge
something so old but continually new.
A sea eagle swoops, talons extended,
grasps the river surface and pulls out silver.
A cormorant drops full-bodied
like fruit from a tree swallowed
by the river’s arcane depths.
Inside the reef-caves smell of decades and decay.
A tiny coin-sized turtle turns to meet my gaze,
our eyes held in light suspension
I drift beneath white stone
rippled by antediluvian oceans,
the huge narrative of myself
enfolded inside the river’s skin
reduced to this one dumbstruck moment.