Ode to a River Boulder

Ode to a River Boulder

Humankind say loneliness
but the boulder says solitude.
Boulder, old abider,

moveless and aloof
to the liveliness of the the river you live in,
though its leaves, its archipelagoes

of ice congregate against your gut,
your spine. What’s it to you
if birds make advances on your bald spot,

if the sun never warms your mossy side,
your right cheek in winter? You let the smelt
nibble stonewort below your waistline.

And once, a half-naked woman
pressed her breasts upon you, stroked you
like a fat pear for the photographer.

It’s said her body could sway a man
but she did not sway you. You weighed in
never to envy the love of stones

among stones. When you are gone
you shall go alone, a grave of sand a mile long
beneath the river murmuring,

a fine sediment between a child’s toes,
a final cloud of silt
as the crayfish flash away.

— Ryan Dowling
first published in The Rockford Review