Sitting River Meditation

(Johnson, VT)


At night the river,
            frozen over, fits

its bed like a key
            its lock. The current

keeps turning but
            the surface won’t

open. I can
            hear ice click, shift,

its crystalline pins
            caught. Twenty miles south

of Lake Eden,
            its origin,

the Gihon’s near its end.
            After the old red mill,

before it enters
            the Lamoille, it falls

flat, a closed
            door. Wrong key

in the wrong lock,
            I like to put

my mind where two worlds
            meet & agree to

disagree. The teachers
            say : take up the water,

make it your body
            & mind, make it thought.

But I think I
            must think the way

elements make

            with weather :

hydrogen locked
            to oxygen,

each strong molecule
            expands, a lattice

of tetrahedrons.
            All their new shapes make

ephemeral color
            the way what light there is

at midnight heightens
            ice, brighter briefly

than snow. & toward
            that whiteness my mind

pushes outward from
            the interior

where olivine water
            washes over gravel

& sand. Thought
            exerts drag

against the icy
            underside, & I

feel a border

can’t cross over
            into knowledge

the way in front
            of paradox

my mind stops :
            for five years

my ill body killed me
            while it kept me alive.

On the bank bare
            brambles catch snow

weighted with rain
            that falls straight down,

hissing as it hits
            the ice. Who am I

now. Above : mountains.
            Below : the river.

Both moving & still,

& everywhere, being
            is & keeps to itself,

hidden in emblems
            of the outward, seeds

extracted from bracts
            of a dry pine cone.

The spring equinox
            is near : rain coaxes

the icy lattices
            to relax into lapse,

little cracks

It’s so quiet
            I hardly feel

desire. But its soft force
            flenses the strongest water

from thaw : there, at
            the thinnest brink,

kinesis that
            resists stillness,

thinking on thinking,
            the current pulses.

From Doomstead Days (Nightboat Books, 2019) by Brian Teare. Copyright © 2019 by Brian Teare. Used with the permission of the author.