//Poetry Series

Poetry Series

By Doug Cox | bdougcox@gmail.com

From Fresno to France, the bittersweet follows us everywhere. In this surprising and gritty poem, Michelle Patton, a widely published poet and professor at Fresno City College, employs a series of lists and fragments to depict both the literal and figurative debris that lives on in rivers, even those in our most glamorous cities. These rivers of physical objects and memories, these rivers of loss, shadow us at home and abroad, and this elegiac piece echoes that startling then haunting realization well.

What Lives in the River Seine

The salt of saints and mothers.

The girl-child who drowned herself,

unwanted and pregnant. Shopping carts,

piss and shit from bodies, a wheelchair,

coke cans and delicate tendrils

woven with hair. Bits of paper and bits 

of Joan of Arc. Fragments of bathtubs 

and bitter bones. Silt. Bigmouth buffalo, 

black bullhead, blackside darter, brook 

stickleback, fathead minnow, 

freshwater drum. Wine bottles, a Viking sword, 

umbrellas. Gold and garnet bees. 

A Gallic boat. So quietly flow 

stories and about a quarter cup

of my mother’s ashes.