Lament of the Chinese Paddlefish
One day, there will be no river. The things we think will kill us
don’t—not the red-eyed asteroid, not the red-dust waters, not
the ice age when I froze beneath the mirror of my sky and the slow,
slow silver of my air. There are other homes. Every river meets itself
again: a tongue curling back to lick the spine. There’s no other home:
my stretch; my valley plunge; my swallowed gorge where rock holds
long, low notes and ship is broken back to tree. I fed an emperor;
a bird-boned girl; a man in a haygrass hut. Now their blood runs:
Yangtze, Yangtze, and here is the only place I have to go: this
hundred days to hold the cells of all my thousand sons. Past river,
there is lake. There is a meeting place. I keep some many eons in me.
There is another of me, waiting. We will not find each other.
Aubrey Ryan’s work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Ant-, Best New Poets, El Aleph, Phantom Limb, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poems have received awards from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Consequence Magazine, Booth Journal, and Tupelo Press, and have been nominated for three Pushcart prizes. Aubrey is the Writer in Residence at the Midwest Writing Center in Iowa where she lives with her husband and small son.