The River Hymn

On days when the sky is an overturned urn,
ash-grey clouds lingering like a tooth ache,
learn the names of the dead as a song.

When you walk to the water, let your flesh
wrinkle and soak: the salt a dirge pulling you
toward the ripple that can be mistaken for sails

in iron tinted fluttering. Baptize yourself then,
in the smell of rain and death. Unclench your heart
that has been a tightened fist for too long.

Hear the song translucent: life cannot sing
what you wish it would. You can be both
the beam of light and the darkness. You can be

up shit-creek and still hum a tune. All pain
is temporary. Say this with me: life is not about
endurance but acceptance. Now walk into this,

this river of shoals, and bones, and salt,
let the water rise to your neck. Come sail
or sink, remember you were made of the world.

Sing what you believe should be.