River Bed ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 16th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “River Bed.”


Our tale unfolds in one of those bleak villages
Where the people cling tenaciously to custom
As a dreary way to put an end to time.
Here, it is always winter, forever night,
And although the snows lie thick upon the ground,
The river, which drains this darkness, never freezes,
Yet keeps its violence in the deepest cold,
An icon to undying perturbation.
And yet, how strange, that here, where drudgery reigns,
Among these most reviled, reviling people,
That here, where time has killed imagination,
We find again the wizardry of the word.
Now we can see the possessors of this secret
Threading across the white fields to that verge,
Where all earth’s snows flow down to that wild river,
As one by one, the bearded men, their women,
The misused children, and the boney dogs,
All step into that hectic turbulence,
To enter a world of star-lit blue and calm.
How silently they move across that floor
Of lunar silt, which drifts below the rage,
Each one discovering the predestined niche
Of softest warmth and deepest consolation,
Each one, like clams, which nestle in loose sands,
Now disappearing into sleep’s closed hand.