Prayer for the Tennessee River

This isn’t likely what they mean when they say the river sings, or used to, before the dams and the bridges and the motor boats. This lapping sound along the shore. Out there the current seems to move every which way, a slow and secret treachery for anyone dumb enough to swim out into it. A squadron of large-winged white birds — egrets maybe, probably — glides in a show overhead and then is gone. It is cool but not cold. I can hear Highway 43 flowing into Florence. My phone says I have nine new emails, all junk, solicitation. There’s a line of sharp stones spiking up along the shore. No picture I can take can do it justice, the impossible symmetry it makes. Some hand that placed it there. To write this, I tap a screen and don’t or can’t look up. To see where the birds have gone to, to know which way the river flows. I only hear the highway and the rhythmic whisper sound the water makes, now that it no longer wants or needs to sing.

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