Published on Academy of American Poets (

River Sonnet

Water levels have bled out,
like it had just bitten its lip
& was about to swell— then rip:
had I paid better attention to drought,
listened more to the stars and stayed
with mountain clouds, I’d have let go
of the knot swing hanging above the slow
life flow beneath my legs, I’d have prayed

to forget all the times he came to me
but not wanted me: how fast it rises,
carrying plumes of pang in undercurrent:
swirls of sediment & silt around my knees—
the dragging stalks and leaves of irises,
how pathetic they look breaking in torrent—


Copyright © 2020 by Tacey M. Atsitty. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“If there’s water nearby, I'll go there for solace. Back home, the calming San Juan River current and its light gushes offer me peace in times of disappointment, sorrow, or regret. I grew up on that river, stepping its rapids and floating through my childhood. Both the river and I have changed, but our course remains the same.”
Tacey M. Atsitty


Tacey M. Atsitty

Tacey M. Atsitty is the author of Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press, 2018). She teaches Native American history and culture for a private non-profit organization in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Date Published: 2020-04-23

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