n. The fear that almost everything has already been done, the frustration of photographing
something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist…
—John Koenig, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Does it count if you can step in the same river?
Heraclitus, speaking purely of time, says no. I spend so many
days stumbling into my own befores.
Someone more adroit might not have
slipped and splashed trying to climb out the other side,
not have shied away from water’s cold teeth.

There is always a river: rain running into the street drains—fleeting,
stepped over, bridged by a board,
muddled by a dog’s muzzle for a clear drink.

Other women have lost breasts, which were rivers,
have watched death after death arrive and ferry away
other mothers’ minds, have been taken by rapids of
scars starving their memory oceans.
Others have broken their bones, tumbled by floods
against hard sand.

Even my dying will be a one-woman commonplace book,
fat with pasted-in photos, pen-rumpled pages, water-colored-thick pages,
forgotten leaves and petals,
a feather, a spill of sand—material enough
to make a small boat.
Set it alight upon the river.

I tell myself, my dust will go back to some star, or
become silk in the hands of a woman
who is needle-deft and capable of making beauty, as women and
women before her have stitched one tender world after another.
More likely, it will be silt bedding a creek.
Then let it filter the water.
Let animals drink there in safety.