Conversation of a River
“Late Fragment,” by Raymond Carver
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
“When I die, I’ll still be reading this poem to you
in this remembered moment,
when my hands shake
and my ears grow hair, stiff as summer wheat.
So take this book, and let’s go down to the river.”
The air is innocuous as a song
falling on concentrated ears.
“I will go down to the river
to rest my feet on the steady current
to rest my frame in the shade of cottonwood.”
And she does love these summer nights,
more than others:
fans shooshing the breeze into other rooms,
down to branches that dance on the bank.
“I’ll take you there.
Our time is in the river.”
And he walks her to the river
in his arms,
down steep banks and forgiving grasses,
beside boulders set by force and happenstance.
nothing, but smiles.
He stands in the river, her in his arms,
and she smiles in the river
He says of the river:
“It reminds me of a revisiting of things permanent:
A campfire under a pastel prairie turning to wine,
the susurration of the river,” the one in which they both stand, holding hands.
“Of a love, not changed by the steel edge
of a river’s time
not chained to the ebb and flow of the moon,
but only grown, rooted, and flourished
next to the river.”
A peace now,
even in the constant and distant clamor
that has always been there
and always will be.
“How similar it all is,”
As if he could see what proceeds,
like the slices of an orange,
the river’s swell and balance of direction.
And she knows, setting her book on the bank,
there will always be rivers,
but this river is hers,
this river is his.
And they stand
in the tender musk of wet soil
in the beckoning light of dusk, or dawn,
in the river.