The Stream

The Stream

 

How tenderly the stream flows
among the numberless blossoms
whose heads dip and weave
in the tepid east wind, how warm
the insect tune, and multitude
the ripe green grasses, rank on rank
through which it runs, carrying
the sky in its light-rippled glass. 

On either side the land smoothly rises
to farther painted rocks where
trails of all animals smaller than sheep
cross and re-cross in the pale sand,
plenitude of traces marking the
discrete silences of the owl-dark
paths. How easy it would be to 
cross with one step this final brook. 

On the other bank the shades go,
their forms stretched long or reduced 
by the sun. They pace in line, 
the men with strong calves,
the women’s breasts free in air.
A child walks with them, another
is carried high on the shoulders
of her father. At every moment
they dissolve to nothing, flake
away. Soon their thousand years
shall return to smooth stone. 

How quickly the rain will cease
and the stream go back to sand,
the blooms wither to dust 
in the wind, the diligent ants 
bringing in their stores curl up 
to be blown away, the shades }
on the other shore dissolve to light;
and how lightly we will cross over,
with a single pace, our children 
beside us or on our backs.

Michael Cope (b. 1952) is a jeweler, writer, and karate teacher living in Cape Town, South Africa. He is married to Julia Martin and has three children. He has published three novels, two volumes of poems, and a memoir.