Robert Lietz

Watching the River Flow

          So little at the source, and here, this pumice,
paling the palm or paling the fingers coursing stone,
          the Drina undergoing the bridge at Visegrad.

          Here were the means to get across, and here
the mothers, fallibly conceived, who watched as kids,
          who gasped as children cut their kids from them,

          dropped kids to that slow wash, as if the effects
could not have been decided in advance,
          known but no less strange, as if the prophecies

          were not more odd for intimation,
and mused across crossed times, as much as hes known
          about bridge-building and that terrible masonry,

          about the pumice fingers stroked into the fabrics
of the workclothes. But what was left for them
          to tell, except the indifferent heat, the tenses made

          to sort out with the lightning, workclothes
rubbed to light, to air with all that friction over washstones,
          and now this tattered chasuble, implying

          all the history, and, sensitive to tense, this blood
the keen eye sorts, these drafts
          he sorts from all the later scribbling, leaving

          these words men spoke, before angelic
visitors, when passage over water
          came to cost so much.

Copyright 1997, Robert Lietz

Robert Lietz is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Ohio Northern University. His poems have appeared in more than 100 journals in the U.S. and Canada, including Agni Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, The Missouri Review, The Northern American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah. He has published seven collections of poems, most recently Storm Service (Basfal Books, 1994) and After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems (Basfal Books, 1996).

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