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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.


Greg Williamson



From The Silent Partner, Story Line Press,

1994.  Reprinted by permission of the author
and Story Line Press, Ashland, Oregon.





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