At the desk where the boy sat, he sees the Chicago River. It raises its hand. It asks if metaphor should burn. He says fire is the basis for all forms of the mouth. He asks, why did you fill the boy with your going? I didn't know a boy had been added to me, the river says. Would you have given him back if you knew? I think so, the river says, I have so many boys in me, I'm worn out stroking eyes looking up at the day. Have you written a poem for us? he asks the river, and the river reads its poem, and the other students tell the river it sounds like a poem the boy would have written, that they smell the boy's cigarettes in the poem, they feel his teeth biting the page. And the river asks, did this boy dream of horses? because I suddenly dream of horses, I suddenly dream. They're in a circle and the river says, I've never understood round things, why would leaving come back to itself? And a girl makes a kiss with her mouth and leans it against the river, and the kiss flows away but the river wants it back, the river makes sounds to go after the kiss. And they all make sounds for the river to carry to the boy. And the river promises to never surrender the boy's shape to the ocean.
From This Clumsy Living by Bob Hicok. © 2007. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.