Poems by Marilyn Kallet

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River Talk

by Marilyn Kallet

From Canary Winter 2009-10

In the summer, Marilyn teaches for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Auvillar, "Deep France," as they call this region of Gascony, where the Garonne River flows through the village on its way to Spain.

When I let the river answer it babbles
       barges, hooks, oars,
       It surges kings and arms,
Black Death, Jews, witches,
       poison, smell of burning,
confides: heroes,
       collaborators, pyres.
When I let the river answer it
       obsesses about the
nuclear plant upstream.
       Rivers speak to other rivers.
When the earth trembles
       even rivulets feel it
in their crevasses.

When the fish sicken,
       the river can’t get up and leave.
The saules along the bank weep.
       Turtledoves toot like tugboats
from children’s books,
       the river is never fooled.
The Garonne is stubborn,
       flows despite pizza vans and dumps,
despite bridges and Peugots racing overhead.
       It looks up at the white sky
and reflects, mouths
       slick rocks, lightning and shifting
banks, fish skeletons,
       drowned boys, drought, dust,
softened earth,
       grass waving bye! like Sampson’s locks.

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