Changing narratives in soul transformations of a gracious river

I imagine very loosely in this poem, the river Saraswati, that graced on her banks an ancient civilization. There is mention of her in the Rig Veda. It could be any river that flows or changes course or is obliterated entirely that this poem speaks for; some rivers relegated to the realm of myth and legend.

I also dedicate this post to ‘taking to writing during the pandemic’, when a piece of music inspired me to understand the farmer who communed with spirits, posted in April last year, at the onset of social distancing and isolation.

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A strange tributary of thought / River is muddy / a pioneering sliver of sludge making her way down a mountain / silting in regrets as she fights the ocean / in the final dregs of life //                              

A bird’s eye view of her mouth / or a scrutiny of the invisible / as she swallows the salty tears of the sea / mangroves root inside out / krill, feel at home in saline fingers / River speaks of a silty aftermath / in the delta of older and wiser //

River, she carries tales of mountains / of eroded banks many miles inland / You may not see now / but the river knows / the river flows / in purpose / harmonious blending in her final annihilation / of her murky origins //

Explorers collected facts to transcribe into a colonial harness / built dams to tame her like a horse to ride / prostituted her energy to the highest bidder / and infuriated her surging passions / pulling off the embrace of her arborescent lovers //

What is real in a river / but what feels real to you / as you raft in her rapids / drown in her depths / moisten your farmland / and quench your collective thirst / River exists only in demands as you study her ways to use her / but even she may dry up in defiance or change her state of flow / Your science may predict that in their religious texts in retrospect /

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There’s something about rivers that speaks for a life journey, about seeking oneself. In what I wrote about Ali Farka Touré last year, I found that his lilting voice and his music mimicked a river. Ai du felt like the third longest river in Africa in a song of a single verse,

“that proceeds to evolve like a fractal, assuming different scales to gain several dimensions. It begins like the clear waters of the Niger, emanating from the ancient rocks of the Guinean highlands, as it moves away from the Atlantic, into the Sahara Desert, where it takes a sharp right turn near the ancient city of Timbuktu and heads southeast to the Gulf of Guinea. It is shaped like a boomerang, this river of rivers, as observed from the skies. Is this what inspired Ai du, I wonder, the course of a river through the hearts and minds of people, as it travels across land seeding lakes, evaporating across the Sahel, confluences with tributaries, fractalizes onto a Delta, much like a song but iterating the same crystallized philosophy contained in a single verse”.


“Trust and faith in your fellow man has no equal.
If you have experienced trust you will know its strength.
You must know yourself before you know others”.

The song strikes me deeply, each time I listen to it, like a contemplation too of breakdown of trust I have experienced on occasion, in the hurts of spirits of the past and a need always to rehabilitate vulnerability. Much of poetry and music, takes one to a place of compassion. It’s strange how music heals and how life flows like a river. A river is her own mind and no dam can stop a raging deluge.

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