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From Sisyphus: The River

Sisyphus speaking to the stars about his plight



Our river was a miracle,

(which one is not).

It came to us because of thirst.

It came because our land was cracked

and brown and barren as the desert.

It came because we needed her,

that’s our belief,

foolish as it sounds.

I told my friends the tale

about the River God

searching for his daughter

and how he lifted up his rod

in gratitude for telling him

how I saw Zeus stealing her,

how I defied the great god’s warning not to tell a soul

and was rewarded with the river,

but also knew the rage of Zeus,

the curse that brought me to this hill

to bear this endless weight.

And even now I can’t explain

what came to me that day,

what battle I was in,

what forces swirl around us,

entering our hearts and minds

with dreams and notions,

inspiring what we say and do.

I only know the river came,

don’t ask me how,

and made our valley green and holy.

The river taught us how to live.

It answered what we did not know,

murmuring its wisdom

if we listened.

The river was the vein that brought us life.

We drank its blood.

We learned to fear its raging floods in spring,

and found it made our land more fertile and alive.

We learned to love its gentleness and sail

its surface and carry what we grew

to towns along its shore.

We learned to fish its depths for food.

We learned to dive into its soul

and find there is no bottom,

no beginning, no end,

that we are part of all that is flowing,

tinier than dust,

a miracle like the wind

forever blowing.

The river brought us pools

that let us see ourselves,

our faces above the surface looking down

at our eyes, our mouths, our hair,

our bodies kneeling,

getting older.

It let us bathe in her,

wash our clothes,

fill our jugs and days

with what she gave to us.

We built a temple on the hill,

honoring this spring that is the river’s source.

And standing there,

we held each other’s hands in awe

and sang in celebration of the gift

that came to us that day.

Our poets said the river came

because our hearts were pure,

our prayers sincere,

our need for her

innocent of greed.

And now, looking back from this steep hill,

this stone against my back,

I see us pouring water over us,

our wetness glistening in the sunlight,

the spring bubbling at our feet,

and at the bottom of the hill,

our river flowing to the open sea.

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