by Elise Stuart
She loves all—
the birds, who dip in to catch their food, and sing to her,
the insects and lizards, who scurry on her banks,
the fish who swim within her,
and the humans,
with their conflicts and desires.
She is a mirror to many who walk beside her.
They see who they're afraid to be, who they wish to be,
sometimes, who they really are.
Truths they utter fall silently into the river,
making an arc of ripples throughout.
Lies fall, like heavy stones, to the bottom,
to bury themselves in mud,
the silky water always moving through anything
that tries to hold it.
She can take the wounded ones,
who hold their heads in their hands, looking down,
even the sad ones, who lie face-down.
She turns them gently, lifting their faces toward the sun again.
Later― when they walk into her waters,
she holds them, awakens them with cold eddies,
kisses them with small warm pools.
Her grace extends towards them eternally.
Sometimes drought comes, dries her up,
yet she gives all she has.
The river will run―
moving underground if it must,
appearing parched and dry, but still alive.
She knows how to forgive any hurtful thing,
any act of violence.
The continuing flow― her answer.
* * * * *
Elise Stuart moved to Silver City, New Mexico in 2005. She came to know the desert as a place where small yellow flowers grow in arroyos, fed by underground streams, where shallow rivers and occasional rains nourish every living thing. In the stark beauty of the desert landscape, she found her home. When she became Poet Laureate of Silver City in 2014, she envisioned giving young people a way to express themselves, so developed and facilitated numerous poetry workshops throughout Grant County. Students wrote their poems on muslin "poem flags," which are currently displayed throughout the community. Elise Stuart is the author of Another Door Calls.