When I was a child, there was a grand river nearby
on the far side of downtown behind warehouses and train yards
and fields of junk and thistle.
We only saw the river if we drove the bridge to Iowa
or hiked through Fontenelle Forest. The Missouri flowed fast and brown.
We threw rocks we collected from the train bed,
our reward for hiking. Sometimes a tree limb floated by.
Mostly what I know about rivers comes from books, from Mark Twain
and John Hersey, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Rumer Godden, V.S. Naipaul.
I lived at the mouth of a river once, during the months I worked in Livingston, Guatemala
where every few days I'd slip into a kayak and roll upriver to explore jungle creeks.
And when I got to missing Andrew, I'd hop a boat
that motored up the gorge to Rio Dulce where I'd catch the bus back to El Estor.