There is a river
beside the trees
that flows around
the broken glass
and hurries past
the trays of ash
that choke the birds
and fumble words
and smother all the roses.

It winds around
the crumbling brick,
surging past
half-painted walls
and echoing through
empty halls of wax
to wane and crash
break back and splash
a sonnet at my feet.

The river does not
start or end
it surges on
through days and years,
cascading past
freshwater tears
and bloodshot eyes
stiff-lip disguised
as adult honesty.

These tears swim
down murky streams
to rainbow fish
that leap and plunge,
that dip and wave
and twirl and lunge,
and mirror bright
and warm delights
into these empty spaces.

But winters come
and rivers freeze.
These lights will all
but disappear
like warmer days
were never here.
The fish will leave
me alone to grieve
for all the smothered roses.

My mother says
when spring returns
perhaps my fish
might reappear
and take me far
away from here
to somewhere new
where lies are few
and rivers never darken.

but should I learn
to love this place
and slowly build
a taste for ash,
forget the sound
of a river splash,
these fish will become
strange creatures
with similar features.

and the life that flows
through the river of this spring
will only live in memory.

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