Always There, and Yet   Leave a comment

One of the things about the Los Angeles River that intrigues me is its paradoxical existence—the river is both there and not there.  My current project is exploring the ways in which literary study, fieldwork, & reflective connection of the two might “daylight” the river.  This poem, by Hayden Carruth, has nothing to do with L.A. or sunshine, & only refers to streams in passing; but I take something from it that helps me think about the ways in which something is and at the same time is not.


From Clay Hill, high,

next to the old pitched cultivation

of the settlers’ graveyard, I watch you,

eastward of the mountain there

rising, your glowing fervent bronze, so full

though with one edge blurred

as if in sympathy with the settlers lying

half in the blurred

receding shadow of April’s snow.

I watch you, alone and lonely,

both of us lonely, full of this late

fire. Then I descend once more

to the cove, to deepening snow and the house

that stands by the loud brook in freshet

under the hemlock bank, finding

my loves there, compassionate and always

careful of me. And you

are hidden by banked black boughs,

as I am hidden by love.

Hours later

when the night has gone to frost

again, a reversion to winter,

I walk out onto the crusted snow

and there you are, high

in the winter sky again, so clear,

like a free flake in the stream

of stars. I have found you.

I lean to you in the depths

of cold and darkness, you always there

and yet often hidden, as I too

am where I am always, hidden.


Posted November 1, 2013 by the meaning of rivers in Uncategorized

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