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from Stops Along the Western Bank of the Missouri River: Of the River Itself

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This is my advice to foreigners:   
call it simply—the river;
never say old muddy
or even Missouri,
and except when it is necessary   
ignore the fact that it moves.   
It is the river, a singular,
stationary figure of division.
Do not allow the pre-Socratic   
to enter your mind except
when thinking of clear water trout   
streams in north central Wyoming.   
The river is a variety of land,   
a kind of dark sea or great bay,   
sea of greater ocean.
At times I find it good discipline   
to think of it as a tree
rooted in the delta,
a snake on its topmost western branch.   
These hills are not containers;   
they give no vantage but that   
looking out is an act of transit.   
We are not confused,
we do not lose our place.

Michael Anania, “Of the River Itself” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania. Used by permission of Asphodel Press/Acorn Alliance.
Source: Selected Poems (Asphodel Press, 1994)
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from Stops Along the Western Bank of the Missouri River: Of the River Itself

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