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Susquehanna

[Along the Susquehanna River in Broome Country, NY.]

Captured by a last fall-warm night in November
I make my way through brown, fading grass
To the river.

Reflections cross the water
Streetlights stuck like permanent sunflowers
lighting the curves and hollows.
Headlights draw a map of the back river road
and disappear.

Both this, and you, were moments to be savored.
The mundane day recedes to distance
The rightness of right now, draws a circle
as wild and true as Stonehenge
as old as the hope of satisfaction and love
in a world that will soon be white and colder.
A world that does not always agree
to blend beauty with the future
Or adoration with the random heart.

I break off a long-dead bough, heave it back
toward water's edge, send it splashing somewhere
farther south in the lapping current.

Moments are like that.
Lapping gently.
Always approaching.
Always receding.
Waxing and waning
With breath and surprise at their center.
There is nothing still in that stillness,
nothing static in watching the river
or passive in holding you close.

Like the untended apple trees along these banks,
Some fruit hangs too high to be taken without
A picking ladder that chance did not provide.

The river, the woods, the apples remain,
The weight of time, of circumstance or
A blustery harsh Northeast wind
might have brought that choice fruit down,
Kept you near the genial warmth of
my cabin's glowing stove.

I look south, toward Binghamton
Though you are further still -
Beyond the time and place this shifting river passes.
Disappearing along the edges of cornfields and
villages without regret,
For there is no memory, no ache,
no rill of longing to be lost - or found - in water.

© J BARRETT WOLF