After Ellsworth Kelly’s River II

You were a river.
You were swollen,
and slowly abrading your banks.
I was drawn to your collaborations with light.
Transfixed by the tremor
unleashed by my hands,
I let my whole body explore you.
Ripples throbbed outward—
how startling, how complete—
the way kisses on closed eyes
send echoes down the spine.
You were not discreet.
Your presence tore through
my tapestry of moments,
exposing each silken strand.
And I found myself pouring,
learning confluence, learning bliss.

And why wouldn’t you take in
all you could take in?
Your channels were filled with tree limbs,
broken bones, and broken boats.
For this is the nature of rivers.
Just swim, cried a voice inside me,
just swim in any direction.
Your current was strong;
you were headed for the sea.
There was no test like this one.
I craved the being carried.
I craved that salt.

On the shore, at last,
exhausted and wet,
I cling to the roots
and press myself flat
against the cold, alluvial soil.

—Heather Swan