Dowser on the River
Tom Sheehan

Downriver a sudden
wash spills grubs, white
worms, into the quick rush.

Stones, too, hurl
into the fray, like infantry
and horse soldiers out of bush.

The rain is gone
over-hill half a day
and aches its echo on the earth.

This, of course,
is my own war, this drive
to be alone, separatist seeking

shadows of the pine,
the cool, dark cells of old trees
flattening like choice rooms by the banks,

and the phantom foe
sleek as a jet under surface.
He turns to watch my boots stumble

on the rock skelter
laced with lichen and mossed
strains. If he has laughter, it floats

away faint as photographs
at the back end of an old man’s
mind. I trust that he neither laughs

nor cries in his world,
that once he noses upstream,
feels the power gauging his flanks,

knows the message
burning like new stars
in the sanctity where his eyes dwell,

he will forget why I
am in this shadowed recess:
that a secret spawning calls us both

from the center
of the earth, the rhythm’s merge
divining where the river starts itself.

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