“Body of well-known naturalist found in river” by Risa Denenberg

“Body of well-known naturalist found in river”

A woman wanders to escape. Her noetic life has dwindled
. . . . . . . .down to grandchildren she never sees and a failure to remember
their names. She retains an ossified memory of the taxonomy of birds,
. . . . . . . .but has lost her car keys for the last time. She miss-mates the buttons
on her flannel jacket. There is no one to straighten it or care,
. . . . . . . .no one to straighten her affairs —

not the trysts of mid-life, but the sort that bury you under piles of junk
. . . . . . . .in your seventies. Physically, she is strong with steady heart
and unburnt lungs; she can hike for hours wielding a hand-carved
. . . . . . . .walking stick, backpack not a burden, canvas for shade or to lie upon,
enough water for a day. She roams the path along the river where she knows
. . . . . . . .the flora and the pitch of bird calls.

The once-weekly chat with her daughter came this morning
. . . . . . . .at ten. She no longer looks forward to these calls, but does her best
to fake it. Pleasantries were tendered and repaid. No hint
. . . . . . . .was given of any plan or prayer. In the river, tiny eyelets open
within eddies as she slides from bank to current with a splash.
. . . . . . . .She is a perfect pear-shaped sea-bound droplet.

by Risa Denenberg

Editor’s note: At first, I balked at noetic (“of or relating to mental activity or the intellect”), but upon further reading, I found some lovely internal rhyme and alliteration in this poem.

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