The River Swimmers (for Jim Harrison) by JamesGoertel

The River Swimmers (for Jim Harrison) by JamesGoertel


The Loboc River in Bohol, Philippines.

The Loboc River in Bohol, Philippines.

THE RIVER SWIMMERS (for Jim Harrison)

In the eddies and shallows lie the bathing beauties
Of our youth. We make doctors, lawyers, bricklayers,
And – god forbid – writers of ourselves;
Wade torrents of spring melt after spring melt,
Easters on the opposite shore of Thanksgivings;
Native Americans and Christ swept into sight
Briefly, then gone beyond our failing eyes,
Our flailing arms; the only natural instinct
Which serves us in a world three-quarters covered
By water; our blood beneath wet skin
Carrying memories of the eddies, shallows, torrents,
And bathing beauties to an ocean of black
And its rain of stars suspended, the same
As those we glassed from either side of the riverbank
On nights opaque enough to hide the current
We all must ford or give ourselves to.


James Goertel. Under The Same Moon


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Born in North Dakota, James Goertel spent twenty years working in television for ABC, NBC, and ESPN, among many others in the U.S. He currently teaches writing at Penn State. Carry Each His Burden (2011) was his fiction debut. Each Year an Anthem (2012) was his poetry debut. With No Need for a Name (2012) and Self Portrait (2013) are his follow-up collections. His debut novel Let the Power Fall will be published in 2014.

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