Even the River

Luke Hankins


In a constant murmur of leaves and branches
the mountains have been speaking to me
about how you left them, cardinals
flashing in and out of branches
signaling in red semaphore their grief
at your departure. All of nature
seems to address and blame me.
I walk around holding out my hands,
palms upturned, in a gesture
of bewilderment and surrender,
suggesting my innocence
but also my willingness to hold
the guilt that finds no other place to rest.
I go out at midnight to comfort the river
near the tracks where the trains pass
in a slow, unrelenting fury all night,
the spark of metal on metal
winding through the dark,
blaring their enormous questions
that I don’t know how to answer.
And even the river resists my touch,
like a small child who continues
to feel slighted
no matter how long
her father sits by her bed
stroking her hair and singing.