What is a River?



What is a River?

It is not the water running
along its rocky course
The water is but a traveller,
journeying from cloud to sea.

Listen to its gurgling…
Is this the river speaking?
Or is its voice hidden
in the chattering symphony
of robin’s perched in the bush
singing their territorial proclamations?

This riverstone, maybe it knows.
It certainly speaks of water
and it knows the strength
of being endlessly ground down
smoothed and rounded
until it exists no more.

Maybe the tree knows.
Its whole life has been spent
wrestling its roots
into the rocky river ground.
Surely it knows this rivers name?

This mountain knows,
I am sure of it!
The way it looks over this rocky stream,
endlessly incubating the meandering path
of its undulating folds.

Everyone knows this river but me.
I sit here, stupefied,
having always thought I knew.
And yet sitting here
all my knowing
has become unravelled before my eyes
and it is this beautiful unravelling
of a stubborn mind
that has turned my river impressions inside out.

Yet somehow in this unravelling
there is an essence that remains behind,
a whisper floating on the morning breeze,
a scent of daisies, a twitter.

The river is everywhere,
even where it is not
and it has always only been me
who was not there to see it.

Prince Albert, Swartberg Pass river meditation.


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