River Man

She did not remember the way, but she remembered the times, the place.  She wanted to connect present to past.  She did not know how or where to begin, and yet she needed to try to construct that bridge.  Words were all she had now.

Two ways, really, even though she always pretended they were the same.  Or maybe it was only her longing that failed to understand that they were two, not one.

She had been dreaming of a river.  A man, a boat.  Trees, weeping, or was that her own voice, crying on the wind?  It had been summer once.  Flowered.  Sweet.

But here was the river again, littered with fallen leaves.  What magic word would turn back the seasons, dispel the haze, repair a lifetime that had already disintegrated into dust?

Was she coming or going?  In her dreams a voice kept repeating you have to choose.  But between what?  Who?  Did she get to choose who would be waiting on the other side of the river?  Or was she to be the one left waiting?

to begin,
become the current–
sing its song

Brendan at earthweal has more to say about rivers this week and poses the question: What voyages are found there, which deities are vast in its depths? It made me think of my response to the Kick-About #61 prompt, which was Molly Drake’s haunting song, “I Remember”.

I wasn’t aware of Molly’s connection to Nick Drake, but when I learned that she was his mother, Molly’s song immediately made me think of Nick’s song “River Man”. I took the feeling I got from both songs–a kind of remembering intertwined with uncertainty, loss, and the passing of time–and wrote the above prose poem, adding a haiku coda for earthweal, and some water art from my archives.

43 thoughts on “River Man

    1. Actually, much before, but Molly’s work was not “discovered” until it was used in a documentary about Nick after his death. It’s speculated that her music had a large influence on her son–all her recordings are home recordings, not made with any thought of release–supposedly she wrote and sang her songs for her own pleasure and shared them only with family and close friends.

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  1. Interesting. Poem, pictures, music too. Actually, a REQUEST for you. Your second round water image, that set me to wandering into a poem – and I’d ask your permission to include that copy of your painting with the poem. Credit of course. As you wish and thanks. neil

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  3. This one is heartbreaking. It’s a choice, held out arm’s length, offered, then taken away. Beautiful writing. I don’t know either of your inspirations, and I’m reluctant to break the spell by listening to them.

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    1. Thanks Merril. I think that’s true. The feelings they evoke are universal. Though interestingly the responses to the prompt by other people were for the most part nostalgic. That’s not the feeling I got at all.

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  4. Quite the accomplishment, Kerfe. As always your art work is wonderful. Your Nick Drake/Molly connection is fascinating. Your river words run deep, as your poetics run through it. These days of drought, rivers are revealing a lot of their secrets.

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