POEM: Strange Rivers

Lest you think you know rivers —

just water meandering mountain to sea;

there are strange rivers in this world.

There’s a river in Cambodia, the Tonlé Sap, that yearly switches its direction.

The Okavango can’t be bothered to get to a sea, an ocean, or even a lake. Instead, it becomes a desert swamp — obstinately creating a thing one might be forgiven for thinking impossible.

There are blood red rivers and licorice black rivers.

There are rivers that take a holiday, and rivers that only show up for the 100 year flood.

There are rivers that look like they’re barely moving that can sweep a man to his death.

Rivers with dolphins. Rivers with fish too fat to swim. Rivers with creatures, Mesozoic-ugly.

A river in India, the Sarasvati, up and disappeared.

There are rivers that aren’t even rivers, but metaphors for that which we think eternal but which vanishes each instant to be replaced by a look-alike.

There are strange rivers.