e2048 merced river

Merced River, Clifford’s 65th birthday, May 21, 2017

Turgid—that’s the word for it—
white petticoats of froth atop olive drab river
coursing so fast, so hard, it sounds like ocean
turned up full blast, without the ebb and flow.

Here it’s all flow after hundreds of inches of snow
fell and fell and fell higher up, wrapping Sierra granite
in white sheaths, officially the wettest winter on record,
after too many dry ones. All the water on the planet
seems to be rushing by us now—

and by “us,” I mean me on the cusp of completing
another year on the planet, and you, whom I always
feel outdoors, you, ever present in this energetic river,
in the slender pines on the opposite bank
reaching for a darkening sky,

for it is late on the day you would have turned 65,
and I have come to sit hard by this deafening water,
to spend time with you, to imagine what you’d
look like now, to consider what gift I might give you—

and I remember: this water, right here, a river for you,
the fly fisherman. You loved nothing better than
a good river, though, given the swiftness of current,
the fish in this one must be safe from barbs
wound into fake insects, must let go and float,

allow themselves to be carried downstream
or find the rare eddy in which to rest, to linger
like me, singing happy birthday to you
as the swollen river drowns me out, on its liquid path
to places I can’t see.

But I trust that it knows its way through
this granite channel lined by living things
in infinite shades of green—that it is going exactly
where it needs to go.

e2041 jlh clifford.jpg

Leaving a bit of Clifford in Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada, 2012. (Photos by Dick Schmidt)


About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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8 Responses to Snowmelt

  1. Deja says:

    So Beautiful !! 💖

  2. Cora says:

    Thought provoking. Thanks, Jan

  3. Connie Raub says:

    Powerful, prolonging and sustaining. That’s what love is!

  4. Donna Just says:

    Happy birthday to Unka Kiff!

  5. dorothyrice says:

    This is a beautiful poem. The photo too. Wow.

  6. Heartbreaking and beautiful.

  7. Carol Burnett says:

    What a lovely tribute. And nice photo of you, too.

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