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There are varying spiritual interpretations that can be educed from this story-poem. However, the fundamental message is about attuning your ears to the voice of wisdom, and how by not doing so each generation has the propensity of making the same foolish mistakes as the last.
Image: by Michele. Horsetail Falls River in the June Lake loop
The river coursed
Through the woodlands
Bending and winding
From a source
No soul had ever viewed
In the far mountains
Where pure water
Left new impressions…
The river flowed
With no restraint
Tumbling and crashing
As it meandered its way
Down through differing terrains
Past townships and
Cast into the deep pools in
Amongst fallen trees and the
Outcroppings of rocks…
There was a wooden bridge,
Outside a small village- stinking
Still of the chromate copper arsenate
Used to preserve it- where turbulent
Currents caused fierce eddies in
The water around the
When after losing energy- began to
Gurgle along unimpeded further downstream;
Here along the bank, a woman was ambling
Contentedly at leisure listening…
The river spoke to her
Suddenly of the time of inception,
And of the life it had been given to live,
And how it would, at first, be turbulent as
It flowed from its high source down through
Many differing terrains where it would
Enrich, and damage, and carve
But then, as it neared
Its termini, it would become
Slower, lazier, and more silt-laden…
Something hued the woman’s mind
as she pondered…
That even though the river
Was always in one place, it kept moving,
And, (given that what she saw one moment was
Gone the next) she realized the river was
Moving forward with purpose, at
Times imperceptibly, at
And bringing with it all manner
Of things it had collected along the way,
And while each morning it seemed the
Same, it changed always as it flowed
On a relentless journey to its end…
Keen to understand
The woman dipped her
hands gingerly into the water. And
As she gazed down (into her palms) she saw
Her face reflected; stirred, she cast it back into the
River where it vanished and flowed quickly downstream
“How many reflections are mingled together
With mine in this river forever flowing forward?” She asked.
“That is difficult to know,” the river whispered.
“Dip your hands again into me so I may teach you.”
Again, with purpose, the woman
Thrust her hands into the water, but
This time she sprinkled it atop her head in
An ablutionary ritual. Given that the heat was great
And the amount too little, she thrust her hands in again &
Again & again until she felt clean and fully satisfied
“The river refreshes me,” the woman sighed contentedly.
“Dip your hands again,” the river whispered.
“There is more to understand than self-satisfaction.”
Angrily she thrust her hands into the water,
But this time, being fully satisfied, she climbed up and
Cast it upon a withered flower trapped in the cleft of a rock…
“See… now I have done a good deed,” the woman simpered.
“This is very good.” The river whispered. “The flower
Is nourished by your action. But since it cannot help itself;
Will you serve it again until it is strengthened?”
“NO!” The woman balked. “Let another do this.”
Unbeknownst to any
A storm was ramping up near
The source and a swollen river had
Become fiendish in its descent towards
The woodlands and the few populated villages
Bring water again to the flower;” the river whispered.
“NO!” The woman rejoined in an outrage.
“I have no intention of nurturing this lowly flower.
I am staying down here where I am comfortable and safe,
As she remonstrated,
A frightful wall of water
Was roaring down through
The countryside, destroying it,
Through the village, destroying it,
Over the bridge, destroying it … Suddenly
It swept with no warning towards the woman.
Screaming in piteous horror, she turned and scrambled
Up the hillside higher towards the flower, [still
Safe in the cleft of a rock] but as she did
she was inundated by a great deluge
And pulled under and away
Down towards the sea…
Years later a youthful
Woman was ambling leisurely
Near where her mother had been swept
Away; she was seeking closure and to understand why;
Clutched in her hand was a small bag of seeds
“Have you come seeking something?” The river whispered.
“Yes … to understand why, and to give back,” she replied
Holding up her small bag of seeds.
“This is good!” the river whispered, “Plant your seeds up
Higher, near the strong trees, where they will grow in relative safety.”
“I’m sorry, that makes no sense!” she quetched. “The soil is rich and
Moist here nearer the water and the river courses peacefully;
Who would ever care for them up there?”
richard lloyd cederberg
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|Reviewed by steve Chering
|I wrote one called The river and the wind.Its what drew me to read it! I like yours better.|
|Reviewed by Liana Margiva
|Wonderful story!!!!!!! Liana Margiva|
|Reviewed by Z McClure
|I so much enjoy narrative poems, and this one demonstrates why. They have the power to teach wisdom in a gentle way that no lecture can ever do. You have a marvelous and intriguing way with words,Richard. I am so glad you wrote THE RIVER WHISPERED and chose to share it!
|Reviewed by Morgan Merriweather
|It's hard to realize the consequences of things at times. Or to notice the obvious. Most plod along. This was well done, need to read this a few more times i think...MM|
|Reviewed by Peter Paton
|Sir Richard the Galalad
Your mighty quill takes us on a fiendish and somewhat terrifying analogical tale of the vicissitudes and vagaries of life. The caption picture is stunning and I can almost wish myself there stalking those wild and rugged banks.
Never let your quill run dry brother and be one step ahead of the Passage of Time
In Friendship and Fraternity
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|You paint a wonderful story and the lesson is very clear. That is the very reason I sought out elderly people when I was young. I always had plenty of time to waste, but I never wasted the time I spent with these people just listening to them talk and tell me what they knew.
|Reviewed by Mary Ann Biddinger
A beautiful written story courses through wisdom
spoken in depth of knowledge. Attuning to the
river whispered for one to adhead virtual reflection.
Lady Mary Ann
|Reviewed by Michael Hollingsworth
|Excellent, enjoyable, and thought provoking!|
|Reviewed by Joy Hale
|Words almost escape me after reading what has to be one of the finest poems/story I have ever read. There are so many lessons to be learned here, but I feel the most important one is that one should listen to the soft words spoken to them because the words are almost always for the persons benefit. Oh, how I enjoyed perusing through your mind of brilliant words and thoughts. BRAVO, Richard.
Joy L. Hale
|Reviewed by Jean Oathout
|I enjoyed reading this poem. The author did a great job. One of the best I've read.|
|Reviewed by Odin Roark
|An allegory of immense purpose and meaning to anyone reading. You've built a tapestry of woven metaphor that like the wearing of any woven fabric, time will reveal even more of its origin, of its source, the cotton, the silk the earth cover that, as your poem/prosetry proffers, remains a continuous paradox of decay and birth, needing understanding of nurturing process, of layered experience which is is the marvel of Nature's infinite layering of lessons to be learned... especially amidst its raw landscape and other whispering enigmas. Wonderful crafting of a difficult-to-learn reverence, and increasingly avoided practice. Kudos, Richard.|
|Reviewed by Douglas Bentley
|WOW Richard, there are so many metaphoric turns that you blended into this poem I don't know where to start. But I can tell you where I ended. No matter how much time we spend communicating to our next generation, their doomed to our same mistakes unless they start listening and hearing - then doing.
This is a Keeper.
richard lloyd cederberg