My Lethe

A door blew open, and a black river
flowed into the house. It was my river,
invisible except to me. At night
it would come to me, and carry the flimsy raft
of my bed away with it, so I could feel
the current’s preliminary cold caresses
throughout me, and hear its voices lapping
at the mind’s peripheries, promising
it would carry me into the world
inside this one, which it would.
I spent most of my childhood there,
in the granite mountains of the north,
where I might meet Odysseus on the trail,
or a centaur groomed for town,
his hooves gilt. I drank my river’s anesthesia,
but its immortal water goes on
gushing from a stone mouth,
saying what it knows all day, all night.
Like thunder it enters my body
without permission and stays
as long as it likes. If I submit
to its undertow, it lets me hold
a cold god almost in my arms.

Chase Twichell


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