In still transparency, the water pools
High in a mountain stream, then spills
Over the lip and in a sheet cascades
Across the shoal, obeying hidden rules,
So that the pleats and braids,
The feather-stitched white water, little rills
And divots seem to ride in place
Above the crevices and sills,
Although the water runs along the race.
What makes these rapids, this little waterfall,
Cascading like a chandelier
Of frosted glass or like a willow tree,
Is not the water only nor the fall
But some complicity
Of both, so that these similes appear
Inaccurate and limited,
Neglecting that the bed will steer
The water as the water steers the bed.
So too with language, so even with this verse.
From a pool of syllables, words hover
With rich potential, then spill across the lip
And riffle down the page, for better or worse,
Making their chancy trip,
Becoming sentences as they discover
(Now flowing, now seeming to stammer)
Their English channels, trickling over
The periodic pauses of its grammar.
From The Silent Partner, Story Line Press,
1994. Reprinted by permission of the author