Rivered, by Eley Williams


 What a rich shanty she is, the river said of you,
Gait like a folksong. I told it to stick with what it understood.
When the Thames spoke only of Thames
I grew frightened of its ego—tides’ fisticuffs,
stories of distant snowshat mountains,
the size of pebbles on beach,
the bulk of its own aboiement, fream and limbec,
hoarfroasts it had halved and had and savoured
where water’s thrall and stint
stiffened at its beck and call—
a river wiry, and wary, and wily.
I am of course referring to my rich inner life, said a tree
eavesdroppingly. He had other advice—
never romanticise a nosebleed.
Just sometimes, the tree said, leaning in,
at a pedestrian’s crossing the green man still permits a passage,
antlers bronchilic against the sky.
The push and pull of conversation—
A good wink will dislodge Charon’s wages, said the river.
Quenching is underrated, said the tree, and my very lining
makes mudlarks beside themselves in glee.
Spoor renozzled, said the river, and how they glared.
I made my excuses and tried to leave,
dropping all manner of gloves and coats.
You do not get to use words like ichor, the tree yelled
as I fell over myself in my haste to leave.
Grebes tangled in my hair, herons smoothing
bills across my brow with clattered raps—
And let me tell you, the tree said, and the river agreed,
There is no lunch that is not at least a little corporate.

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