Ray McManus makes his GMP debut with this intense, introspective poem on husbands, wives, and their many intimacies.
A river has to start somewhere.
Heavy with a body pulling under
and the air between spilling where it wants,
like breath that dies on the skin,
the conversations of old friends buried
in the fog at dawn. What starts
as a simple act of nature becomes
the current that carries our fathers,
and their fathers before that, falls,
and fails in the end the way ghosts do.
My wife asks how deep is it.
This is how we are born, I tell her.
We could move anywhere if it weren’t
for the kids, so we move when can,
where we can. The best we can.
This is how we are born here. Blood
song and mountain, the pool,
the push, the flatland, slick bush.
So I say not deep enough, not even
a hill to climb. And she’s ok with that.
Soon the love of majesty ends
and a river, for all its simple words,
is a midland wish that we we’ll die
before we ever reach the ocean.
The kids sleep in their own rooms.
My wife stays on top; I stay somewhere
on the bottom. Water falls from her
body onto mine. I like to drown in it.
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Photo by Daniel Lee /Flickr