Today, Running Along The River

By Jimmy Santiago Baca

Today, running along the river,
dead leaves cling
to cathedral cottonwood branches,
snap in the gusty breeze,
give a crisp hiss . . .
A wafer thin wind spades up
loose dust from the path,
and above me,
gray leaves clash soft in towering boughs;
that might be heard in the silent yard
of a monastery
like the sandaled steps of monks
praying, walking
over the swept yard,
walking and praying.

I run, beneath the winter leaves
when right ahead of me at the turn,
a plump pheasant
white ring neck, gray-black mottled feathers,
green phosphorescent head
scurries into the dry brush,
clashing like rosaries in the sleeves of nuns
hurrying to the chapel for evening mass.

I jog on. A hawk swoops out
and vanishes into the tree tops toward the river.
Black crows.
Clean swept dirt.
Then at the end of the path,
turning, heading north, I worry over the love
I have for this woman. Then I see seven pairs
of mallards burst up in fright at my sudden appearance,
and I think how they mate for life and beyond them,
poised on the ditch bank, with such regal bearing,
a blue heron . . .

It’s then I hear a voice,
a crystal shining icicle clear voice,
cold water but made of sound,
tells me, keep my connection to the spirits strong,
keep my work spiritual,
stay connected to the Creator,
and all my worries will be answered in time.

Ah, it is a good run . . .

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