November 5, 2018KR OnlinePoetry

cult rivers of the interior

when I saw the cranes
and learned of my obsolescence—
the covered figures
on the fires at dawn—
with all of us
(body without end /
soul of the species)
all of us knowing
we’d be cradled by the belly
then released
into the cult rivers of the driftless—
it came to me :
that this was only
yesterday: and I was in the middle
of my own life ::

when I saw the cranes
and learned of my obsolescence
I saw the replacement armies
going up the mountains literally
body without end soul of the species
into the future perfect—
the present burning
in the furnace of the mind :
the troops / swaddled
in mud—slogging ahead
in the open moment . . .

when I saw the cranes
and learned my adolescence
has been planned well
in advance—
the humiliating locker-
room spectacles
the shop teacher with plastic breath
back-handed crotch-
chafes by the prelate—
all to soften-up
the youth of my century
so we’d do anything
to reproduce our obsolescence—

to endure the jock hairnets
of upperclassmen
rabbit punches
of the wrestling coach—
just so we would mate
in the backseats
of the family’s lordly ford falcon
first given glimpses
of the suggestively swollen features
of the other species—flash
of slit and

when I saw the cranes
and grandstands of the viewing parties
and felt my body without end
seep into sweetwater
I ebbed into the current /
felt myself erode
into waveform
leaking toward the dream
of the mind-without-end—
even as I felt myself
released into
its cloud of knowing . . .
holding us and knowing us
as we faltered /
smoked by the waters—

it was then I began to recede into the driftless—
felt myself lifted
and saw in my mind
every inch of my cultic river’s
black banks
the length of the streambed . . .
with all of us
sucked into whitewater
pulled through the widening dissolve

Mark Conway
Mark Conway’s forthcoming book, rivers of the driftless region, is expected in early 2019 from Four Way Books. Conway lives north of the Driftless Region in the Avon Hills of central Minnesota.