impressions of the Ottawa river...
Gary Robinson

the river is a blue stone that sheds
bits of itself along the shore,
dry and wet pieces of its great hide,
its long moving muscle
clenching and sighing
like a flinty spine slow and relentless

many creatures dream beneath the river,
they build their dreams like tiny houses
of glass and float like silent music,
perhaps they dream of escaping from their
world, of growing arms and legs,
perhaps they dream of past lives and loves

the river brings its spell of birth and dissolution,
its hypnotic nudity, past the city of towers,
flutes may play to it, children may kick at it,
yet there is in its age an accumulated indifference
like the shattered eyelids of a translucent bell
to the dwellers of land and their dying generations

a boy fell into the river once and always falls,
grasping for shimmering leaves of fluid gold
he plunged and tumbled like an elusive die
and there fins and scales seized his petty skin of
white, while at night some see him searching like a
luminous arrow in this new womb where history rolls in
wordless ripples

each of us becomes a river of his own:
some roar and shake like naked bulls snorting
for a copper plain, violent as their dancing horns,
others settle in a weary stretch, twisting like lost
kites, ancient and arthritic, and there are solitary
ones, shunning like ascetic fire any touch of man or

I wonder if the first people who rode the river
in canoes like silver horses, I wonder if they
understood the secrets of its great blue heart? Did it
reveal the forests and skies, stars and storms of its
flashing kingdom in language blasted beyond speech, in
a murmur protean and wild, savoured only in dark

the river, we return to the river never and always:
a swimmer sinks like a robe in the river's black
teeth, the seasons chanting in the net of her steaming
muscles while the city sleeps like slate, slumbers
within the embryonic rush of this circling matrix
where gestates the roots of man and fish