© 2019 Jeff Guess

xiv. Signs and Wonders - Rivers

July 23, 2017

River (noun) early 13c., from Anglo-French rivere, Old French riviere "river, riverside, river bank" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *riparia "riverbank, seashore, river" (source also of Spanish ribera, Italian riviera), noun use of fem. of Latin riparius "of a riverbank". Generalized sense of "a copious flow" of anything is from late 14c. The Old English word was ea "river," cognate with Gothic ahwa, Latin aqua. Romanic cognate words tend to retain the sense "river bank" as the main one, or else the secondary Latin sense "coast of the sea". 

 

The River

Boxing Day morning at the River House

 

Faintest timpani of rain on the iron roof

the feathered percussion of a cool change.

 

Moorhens forage in and out of nervous shadows

green grass parrots frolic in the uncut lawn.

 

Seagulls and pigeons squabble at the river’s edge

for what the water-skier’s wash turns over and up.

 

Kookaburras on Long Island orchestrate their laughter

into an uncomfortable chorus of ‘I told you so!’

 

Willows sag in the green distance of the rain

the overcast sky are low hung flags of grey.

 

The Melbourne Express grinds on its iron errands

wakes the slow town on screeching hooks of sound.

 

and the river is again its own instant – the held moment

of past, present, future, flowing – only an hour from the sea.

 

Jeff Guess

 

River Murray Miscellany

 

An iron windmill grown out of willows

creaks and bangs in the scorching

northerly: pulls the orange river

up clay baked cliffs. Tastes of

 

green weed and salt. On the track

to the boat ramp in straw burnt grass

ants strip the rotting flesh

from rejected carp. Flies sing

 

summer stickiness into ears

and eyes. Ripples in water

in the wake of little boats

are dark grey folds of glass.

 

She-oaks fringe hot breath.

Impatient corellas claw at the hour

as they have always done for night.

Native ducks stencil sun.

 

How quickly stars and the thin

silken industry of spider web

begins. A still river nets the moon:

children play amongst its secrets.

 

 

Jeff Guess

 

Reflection:

 

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. Heraclitus c. 535 BC – 475 BC
 

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. Khalil Gibran
 

I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street. W. H. Auden
 

Reading:

 

Isaiah 43:2 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

 

Psalm 46:4 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

 

Prayer:

 

Rivers of Babylon

Boney M.

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the lord's song in a strange land

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Requiering of us a song
Now how shall we sing the lord's song in a strange land

Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion

 

 

 

©Jeff Guess 2017

 

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