North Flowing River

The north flowing river
Is lonely and slow,
Bound in directions
Few rivers go.

Pooling and turning
In deep rocky beds
Through far inland gorges and
Strange watersheds,

It’s drawn by no distant
Oceans or bays,
But somehow attracted to
Shortening days.

Nor running to regions
Where climates are nice,
It heads resolutely
Toward winters and ice.

No boats ply its surface;
No boatman’s tale
Finds north flowing water
A good place to sail.

Some say there are fish,
But wherever you look
You never will see them,
And they won’t take a hook.

It’s wine-dark, vermillion waters
Are clear,
But no creature drinks from it,
No bear... no reindeer.

If you camp on this river,
You won’t stay there long,
As a panic comes quickly that
Something is wrong.

I’ve known such a river.
I’ve lived on its banks.
It offers no mercy,
Forgiveness, or thanks.

It glides by each day
Like you aren’t even there,
And moves with a purpose,
But won’t tell you where.

It flows beyond borders
Where nobody goes
To taiga and tundra
And boreal snows,

Wilderness beckons.
It follows a star
Some ancient mariners
Followed too far,

Hoping in barrens,
And wastelands infernal,
To capture the secret
Of something eternal.

If it’s a choice
Between darkness or light,
The universe dictates
It has every right,

But if it’s compelled to shun
Prairie and plain,
For talus and drumlin
And glacial moraine,

We ought not despise it
Or question its worth,
But Lord!...never follow
A soul moving north.

The cold realms of Thule
Are no place for men,
And waters that seek them
Are frozen within.

If you’ve been abused
Like a poor beaten dog,
Or you’re an inflexible
Ideologue,

Or you’ve a big ego
And imagine you’re clever
Or a stony-eyed mystic
Obsessed with Forever,

Or despise your own eyes
And seek the unseen,
Growing old, senile,
Bad-tempered and mean.

Or some lady left you,
And you can’t forgive her?
Heart then... and soul... you’re
A North Flowing River.