The Poet to Her Poem
Make of my elbows small pebbles rolling
the river bottom, a fierce and pummeling sweep.
If you will, build of my limbs and trunk
the supple breast and weight of the water.
Of my hands, eels, my ears
twin leeches sucking sound,
already these feet are two swift fish
flicking the shadowed pull of current.
Of eyes and mouth, shape glints and echoes,
sunlight and voices under the bridge.
If you can make of me water’s muscle,
then perhaps you can float:
lay your head where the shoulder of the river rounds,
where the heft of it bends and pools,
hear a river’s shifting joints and taste summer
licked from the lips of a swimmer.
Be sure to tell all the tales—laughter and the drownings—
what I have taken and what I leave behind:
whole lives, wide banks strewn with smooth stones,
the yellow foam of pollen painting the shore.
- Christina Hutchins
From The Stranger Dissolves, Sixteen Rivers Press, 2011.
First appeared in The North American Review.
-- Christina Hutchins
Cumberland River, *Kuttawa, Kentucky
Dr. Thomas Walker and five other men from Virginia found
a gap in the mountains on April 17, 1750. They discovered
and named the river for a Masonic man, William Augustus,
Duke of Cumberland and son of King George II. Ultimately
the name of Cumberland was attached to the whole region:
river, mountains, gap, plateau, town, county, college
and four Masonic Lodges. Duke of Cumberland slew every
Scottish chieftain in the battle of Culloden in 1746,
an unsuitable battlefield outside of Inverness, Scotland.
*Kuttawa in Shawnee means: Beautiful
Cold spring day
Road I never knew
Power towers for miles
across your water
I wanted close
Old farmers warning
“Best not fall in that river
You’ll be swept away,
never to be seen again.”
I stood close
Turn my head
Red clay earth
Ear to ground
- Published in Marin Poetry Center 2011 Anthology
“Volume XIV: Mountains & In Between”
-- Donna Mussato