When the River Rises

Van Gogh en.wikipedia.org

Van Gogh

When the river rises

the field holds its breath

fresh cleared as it is by harvest

the sweet soil naked to the rain

already soaked & sodden

as the widow in grief

Do not look to the sky

for relief It will not come!

The hoop of its wide horizon is

as bitter gray as its sorry dome

The vestal virgin at its altar

can do naught but cry

Nor call the mountain

from whose hard granite

grain by grain you were ground

Your ancestors will never come

The nymph sleeps in a fog

by her rivulet of wine

When the river rises

the field holds its breath

It dare not put its trust in gods

but the slag that makes its bank

An old root coarse gravel

the broken alder limb

“It was one of those times in history when saints are no good to you
and only scoundrels who are pragmatic can save souls.”
~ Thomas Keneally


About Peter Notehelfer

I'm a retired people person who now finds the time to watch the little details of the world without worrying about being watched by anyone . . . I live on an Island north of Seattle with my wife named Ellen, a yellow dog named McGee, a yellow cat named Gatzby, and four fine chickens . . . I read fiction, bake bread, smoke salmon, and fish whenever the weather allows . . . Oh, and yes, I try to write a poem every day simply to avoid senility!
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4 Responses to When the River Rises

  1. I like your word pictures, I don’t agree with your final quote though ;)


    • Interesting comment . . . The Keneally quote is what caught my eye before writing this poem: not because I agree with it theologically, but because poetically speaking he’s speaking of the ‘gods’ inability/unwillingness to stem the flood of the changing seasons . . . Glad that you liked the poem though and for taking a moment to tell me so . . .

      Liked by 1 person

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