A river follows itself, carving its track
through dirt and dolomite unless
it’s been dammed and starved to a small
rope of muddy water and even then,
an insistent grandmother, it offers its one
essential gift. But on sleepless nights
I dwell in the odd light of time’s effacement
far removed from untrammeled streams
while news and old selves clang
like a ragged wind chime. A freight,
sudden and ponderous, growls past
with its soul-scrubbing notes. The dead
can wake us if we’ll hear them.
Since our grief needs a soundtrack,
let Sonny Terry pull another harp
from his apron. Rivers, all along,
have thrummed to the sea and trains
keep wailing through the blues.
Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015).