The rapids await. These four are up early
to drive to the river's white water:
the father whose stupidity is anchored
in the averaging force of the wife's
constant worry, the big ponderous teenager
& the twelve-year old daughter,
blossoming in her beauty
even at six-thirty.

The father won't leave until he finds a book.
He pictures himself in a group on a sandbar,
bookless, dependent on conversations with strangers,

To the big heap of books, then, in the bedroom.
Hand goes in randomly, pulls out an old
poetry magazine, opens it in curiosity
& this is the first line he sees: it's Stafford:
There was a girl whose body was found by a river.

The decision is made: she
stays. The girl is called in, sits beside him
on the bed, reads the poem, is amazed,
but also glad to stay. She
can go back to sleep.

They go without her,
    They were so crazy,
launch out for the distant river.
    One day we were supposed to go river rafting,
the father in the passenger seat.
    and my dad opened this book,
Auden sure was right, the father thinks:
    and he saw this poem and he thought...
poetry makes
nothing happen.

Gerald Fleming
Contents | Mudlark No. 3
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