Northwords Now

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rio abaho rio

by Maggie Wallis

spawned in stillness
  flanked by hill-top pines
she moistens her lips
  and murmurs into being

one clear call         another
 falling back
             to silence

and she gathers each rivulet
 braiding wet strands
      into a single plait
                             of twists
                           and tumbles

such eager babble but
 you’ve only just met…
this hand           sweeping away debris
 from her path
         needles of gold
sticks and silt
                 and the timbre of her talk
and quickens

do you remember?
   here is your voice
     before this channel got choked
  and you found
a different way to wander

 hear now your eagerness
   the onward flow
      and this dried-up streambed
yesterday’s single option

             on a bed of soft sand
       she ripples like silk
    combing through long rushes

from slow sleep
       she wakens
     open    trembling

the wide river beckons

she skelters
     the final slope
                  and joins the Orrin

 they crosshatch
a web of voices intermingling

 beneath Aultgowrie bridge
    the rowdy river
jostling for space

       her voices
drowned in the multitude
 in the underflow     she
the river beneath the river

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