for my friend Jon Madian
You who beat my heart
we are walking the road to the White Salmon River together.
I see the river gorge is the outline of your body
and hear the happy whistling of chickadees as the breath
through your nostrils.
Tinkling bells of rain water announce you are here
and you are alive.
You tell me there is no wall between evil and good.
The watcher sees his own eyes
shining back to him in the dark.
In the dark we won’t recognize our own face
or notice the left hand reaching out for the right.
You say, The dead speak, glowing with good intentions
but you should not listen to them.
Find out what is true for yourself.
Evil and good bleed into one another.
They are always mouth to mouth
as the Brazos River is to the Gulf of Mexico,
the mud tongue of one tasting the salt tongue of the other.
In the estuary of the Brazos
I have seen black and white men no one values
pull garfish from rainbow colored water.
Then roll them in cornmeal
flecks of tar visible in the flesh when it is laid down in lard
There are men who cannot survive a salt river
who must believe they are all one thing and not another.
But in the mouth of the river, the one is food
for the other.
There is a body
where the memory of horror and of loss is still alive.
There is another body composed of Brazos water
moving as a wave into the Gulf.
In a dream, I am taken through this open window.
Travel flooded streets grey with diesel.
I am carried by the Brazos and we are rolling
in a torrent of the Holy Mother’s love.
We flow on through alley ways seeking the drunk and the dead
bending down over them as a friend.
A blue wind follows, lifting those who are ready
into the sky.
You tell me all of us are thieves.
When the stone is rolled away from the tomb
we take with us what we have stolen from ourselves.
The cotton we are bound in is unwrapped by a blue wind
and we see the sky round as the mouth of a cave.
We hear it calling a name that sounds like water.