wanting to be white :: charif shanahan

How easy for the waterfall to turn back

into the river, the long, silent face

holding all that has passed through it

as though untouched,

undisturbed…. Then, within it,

a shadow moves—a turtle, or

kelp wavering, drifting, reaching,

trying to exist beyond its own watery nest—

and the face darkens,

quickens, stills. The waterfall

insists on its own incessant breaking, an anxiety,

a completion at once its own negation,

merging at its most opaque

with the waiting body, froth gathering, evaporating.

Sometimes I’ll come this far from home

merely to taste the air,

the always witness to this relentless constructed flow

unable to hold itself

beyond the falling of its own nature,

asserting itself only to destroy

itself. The sky is

sunless, ill-fitting, unhinging, barely awake. The river,

taking its motion from the surging above, urges,

persists, knowing

no way out, no way to extract

itself from its own circular endurance,

tenacious, whole, singularly minded

until it carries itself back to its own source.

after Jorie Graham