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The River

ISSUE:  Winter 1984

In one day the Amazon discharges into the
Atlantic the equivalent of New York City’s
water supply for nine years.

Just because I was born
precisely here or there,
in some cold city or other,
don’t think I don’t remember
how I came along like a grain
carried by the flood—

on one of the weedy threads that pour
toward a muddy lightning
surging east, past
monkeys and parrots, past
trees with their branches in the clouds, until
I was spilled forth

and slept under the blue lung
of the Caribbean.

told me this. But little by little
the smell of mud and flowers returned to me,
and in dreams I began to grow dark,
to sense the current.

Do dreams lie? Once I was a sad fish
crying for my sisters in the glittering
crossroads of the delta.

Once among the thick reeds I found
an empty boat, as narrow
as a man’s waist. Nearby
the trees sizzled with the afternoon rain.

Home, I said.
In every language there is a word for it.
Deep in the body itself, climbing
those white walls of thunder, past those green
temples there is also
a word for it.
I said, home.


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