Opinions, Beliefs, and Perspectives
The creek doesn’t have them. Neither do the ponderosa pines along the steep, knotted banks. And the rocks lodged in the creek don’t know they rest for now surrounded by icy water. Nor do they feel the water, chilled, unpotable or pure, gurgling along their slick, mineral-veined sides.
The water, meanwhile, snowmelt from somewhere deep in the interior, doesn’t call itself water, is unaware of being called, of flowing around the scarred side of the mountain, flowing into a hiker’s cup, falling and flowing into the blue, cloudless sky.
As for me, called to the creek, for a few minutes, I let the world trundle on without commenting, no separate viewpoints. Everywhere I look I see myself walking. I am not the water but it clearly is me, a flowing gate without qualities or need for proof, a creek made of diamonds uncalled—oh, nameless westerner— broken open by ten thousand blades of sunlight. [End Page 183]
One Glance, Boulder Creek
The walking stick leaned against a boulder at the creek’s edge. Let the record show for three days the stick was all that remained of the traveler and his song.
On the fourth day an office worker from the nearby business park noticed a cut-rate javelin, a gnarled nub for old men, one glance, and tossed it into the water.
Or maybe smitten with the creek inside him, after three days of lunching by the chilled auroras of water, bagged and burned out, he never saw the stick or imagined
the splinters and fibers, slim, snapped-off furniture of idealists and seekers. One glance and he gazed right through it, never to ponder the possibility
of his own aching feet or the deathless generosity of common things, never to ask, wandering, of no fixed address: what is a day without sticks? [End Page 184]
Some of them scrape against the boulders; others get tangled in the weeds and detritus along the slippery, late-spring banks; still others, a few perhaps, understand how to read the current, gauge depth and speed, and shoot through the rapids.
For them, no distraction, no time for fear. They paddle their sleek fiberglass boats through the shining water. They negotiate the froth and boil with skill, illumination as if well-versed in the myths of down creek, unconcerned with arriving.
And then the one by himself, always one like a monk in a monastery of shimmering cottonwood trees and sky, water smashing through the canyon around him—
he bows and dips his hand in the creek before launching. The boat already forgotten, the day long gone, all he hears is the one-noted, unchanging roar of water that is not water, Colorado in an otherworldly key rising up inside him. [End Page 185]
Sigman Byrd’s first book of poems, Under the Wanderer’s Star, won the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize. A new manuscript, The Three Doors Beyond Saying, is currently making the rounds to publishers. Poems from the collection have been published or are forthcoming in Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Plume, Southwest Review, and other journals.