The River Siren
Standing on the river bank— an apparition
that has escaped from the pages of Vogue
or from a mysterious mythical cave where
the gods keep their secrets—long streams
of gold and silver flowing around the golden
glow of her face, with a smile that could swallow
us all, guiding the boats onto her beach,
and soon she will be guiding us down the river
through the treacherous rapids, balancing the boats,
balancing the crew, her presence charming
the treacherous river, creating calm in the midst
of chaos, frenzied water bouncing
off her body, the boat riding on air.
Evenings, once we have gone ashore, settled
the boats, and set up camp, she sheds her
ungainly life jacket, shapeless river slicks and
transforms herself back to goddess, her long wild
strands of gold and silver shimmering in the setting
sun, her body sheathed in form fitting sleeves,
floating through the camp, doing what a good
goddess does, ensuring that all is well with
the world, that we are at peace and well fed.
I am drawn to her like a wandering moth
to a dangerous flame, fluttering my attentions,
bathed in her smile and her mysterious
soft resilient sweetness, wanting to possess
this divine creature, companion to this wild river.
Once, when we were hiking up a hidden
canyon, I slipped. She steadied me
holding me lightly with her slender
fingers and I sensed hidden strength
in those fingers. I realized that if I had fallen
she would have held me effortlessly,
if she wanted to she could have tossed me
over her shoulder, she could have swung me
and tossed me over the canyon wall,
this glamorous creature had a strength —
hidden, contained—capable of explosion.
I sensed that if she exploded she could
change the weather, the river could flow
upstream, and rocks would slide down
the canyon walls, I didn’t want her angry,
I only wanted her smile, her smile
encompassing the world—
or at least me.
At the end of our voyage, this guide
this goddess hugs me, I hug her, caressing
her soft body, sensing her hard body, stroking
fingering her seductive hair, her golden
and silver strands enveloping me,
entwining me, entangling me.
And then she dismissed me.