A friend of mine recently told me she had contemplated taking her own life. She shared deeply personal information about her troubled past and it was obvious how much those experiences haunted her still. I was lost for words. Unprepared for this devastating information, I sought words of comfort, but nothing I said in the cold of that moment seemed adequate. Only a day later, while walking with my dog in the winter sunshine, came any clarity. By the time I reached my desk, the words had formed in my mind and tumbled readily onto the page. My poem, I Know a River, is dedicated to that special friend.

I Know a River. Gabriel Hemery, 2022

I Know a River

Gabriel Hemery

I Know a River
I know a river, a beautiful river
Nurturing life under every rock
Sustaining others as she flows
To carry deeds and wonders
For the ocean deep

I know a river, a beautiful river
Who rose from the drop of a sphagnum frond
Growing to a glitter over mica and quartz
To play with rowan root and dance the fin-dango
For the needy ocean deep

I know not the river, the beautiful river
Who was wickedly restrained
Crowded by darkness, boiled by boulders
Held back from her destiny
In cruel ignorance of the ocean deep

I know only the river I see
Her waters sweet from chestnut dew
Whose serenity carries us onward
And hides the struggle underneath
For the needs of the ocean deep

I know the river glittering bright
Who savours the sea under rising moon
Beckoning her waves, swirling yin and yang
To help bury her waters past
As she heads to the ocean deep

I know a beautiful river; she’s a friend of mine
Through the eye of a needle, under towering crags
She flows unstoppable
Weaving a fabric of life and love
Til she reaches the ocean deep

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