The jewels that dance by day
Upon the river's skin
Are flashfast and springy,
But by night they steal
Slow and soft as poured silver
As they pore ponderously over
The secret schemes
Moving beneath the darkened stream.
The secret schemes-the means,
Answers to the reckless prayers
Of those who care so much,
But do not care so much about the means
Or the cost of what is gained or what is lost
In finding all they hope and pray;
The river by night is the only way.
At night the river has a mysterious grace
Weaving liquid sinews under the rushing face
Forming unseen muscles
Which flex and grip and brace
With the current's heady motion
Ever holding, ever speeding
The river borne in its commotion.
Ever moulding, ever kneading
The brave and reckless ready for the ocean.
They are passing, passing, passing by
The halfly hid and twinkling lights
Peeping from the lush green fringes of the banks.
Homely tunnels and windows
Of contented cozy creatures
Curled up with cocoa and crumpets
Creaking on comfy settles
By their crackling fires.
The cuddly and respectable residents
Of the river bank prepare for bed
With nightcap and candle.
Creatures of myth?
But to these the river borne are a myth
And a horror
As they slap fast their shutters
To keep out all evidence.
For when they pass by night ghosts are awakened
Ghosts of dead dreams moaning in their chains
But there is hope in this haunting
The dead may live again
To fight and laugh with holy joy
And even join the river borne
In their journey to the sea.
On and on it flows
Regal and majestic now,slow
But with the power of a conquering monarch.
The vast valley is silent
Before its ancient shaper-
The waters that break before they break
Stone and earth.
Then the gentle laps and waves
That greet the sea
And the river borne
Broken and birthed into eternity.
The estuary is a no man's land
Of mud and mist and marshes
The river's fingers meandering
Over the sinking sand softness.
Here the only safety is surrender to the river
(Even in the whitest rapids this was always true)
Now the river shimmers almost shy
Over upon the place between places.
Its work will soon be done
As its waters meet the waves
That will bear the river borne away.
The fish will be in the sea
But the sea will finally be in the fish
As they speed on as one great shoal
Into a quickening sunrise.