A River

By John Poch John Poch
God knows the law of life is death,
and you can feel it in your warbler neck,
your river-quick high stick wrist
at the end of day. But the trophies:
a goldfinch tearing up a pink thistle,
a magpie dipping her wing tips
in a white cloud, an ouzel barreling
hip-high upstream with a warning.
You wish you had a river. To make
a river, it takes some mountains.
Some rain to watershed. You wish
you had a steady meadow and pink thistles
bobbing at the border for your horizons,
pale robins bouncing their good postures
in the spruce shadows. Instead, the law
of life comes for you like three men
and a car. In your dreams, you win them over
with your dreams: a goldfinch tearing up
a pink thistle. A magpie so slow
she knows how to keep death at bay,
she takes her time with argument
and hides her royal blue in black.
Shy as a blue grouse, nevertheless God
doesn’t forget his green mountains.
You wish you had a river.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2009).

Biography

John Poch was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He earned an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of North Texas. The inaugural Colgate University Creative Writing Fellow, Poch also received the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize. His collections of poetry include Poems (2004), Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008), and Dolls (2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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