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King of the River

Written by: Stanley Kunitz | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 If the water were clear enough,
if the water were still,
but the water is not clear,
the water is not still,
you would see yourself,
slipped out of your skin,
nosing upstream,
slapping, thrashing,
tumbling
over the rocks
till you paint them
with your belly's blood:
Finned Ego,
yard of muscle that coils,
uncoils.
If the knowledge were given you, but it is not given, for the membrane is clouded with self-deceptions and the iridescent image swims through a mirror that flows, you would surprise yourself in that other flesh heavy with milt, bruised, battering toward the dam that lips the orgiastic pool.
Come.
Bathe in these waters.
Increase and die.
If the power were granted you to break out of your cells, but the imagination fails and the doors of the senses close on the child within, you would dare to be changed, as you are changing now, into the shape you dread beyond the merely human.
A dry fire eats you.
Fat drips from your bones.
The flutes of your gills discolor.
You have become a ship for parasites.
The great clock of your life is slowing down, and the small clocks run wild.
For this you were born.
You have cried to the wind and heard the wind's reply: "I did not choose the way, the way chose me.
" You have tasted the fire on your tongue till it is swollen black with a prophetic joy: "Burn with me! The only music is time, the only dance is love.
" If the heart were pure enough, but it is not pure, you would admit that nothing compels you any more, nothing at all abides, but nostalgia and desire, the two-way ladder between heaven and hell.
On the threshold of the last mystery, at the brute absolute hour, you have looked into the eyes of your creature self, which are glazed with madness, and you say he is not broken but endures, limber and firm in the state of his shining, forever inheriting his salt kingdom, from which he is banished forever.



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