River of Life

Originally posted on April 11, 2011 at 11:18 AM

This poem first appeared in the the Merging Visions Exhibit compilation titled Collections I. It also won first place in the Brazos Writers contest last year. For those of you who are interested/curious, the form is called a pantoum.

River of Life

Beneath the bridge, the water courses on,
over smooth creek rocks in copper and blue.
We, on the bridge, now regret that you’re gone,
leaving us in these mountains missing you.

Over smooth creek rocks in copper and blue,
we pour out ashes of you that remain,
leaving us in these mountains missing you,
arranging small stones to spell out your name.

We pour out ashes of you that remain,
scattering wildflowers into the wind;
they float past small stones that spell out your name;
we watch them drift onward, around the bend.

Scattering wildflowers into the wind,
we, on the bridge, now regret that you’re gone.
We watch you drift onward, around the bend;
beneath the bridge, the water carries on.

© Annie Neugebauer Tilton. All rights reserved.

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  • Pegab

    04:50 AM on April 12, 2011 I’ve always thought that this is one of your most hauntingly beautiful poems. I love the way that, on the surface, it is serene & lovely (captured in the beautiful, controlled Pantoum form), but barely hidden beneath the surface is the aching heartbreak and anguish of human grief.

    Chadwick makes an interesting comment, which caused me to think more about the poem and make this post. I see the “stones” line as a representation of how helpless & powerless we humans are in our grief. I also know it to describe an actual event in your life and the most heart-wrenching gesture of love I’ve ever imagined a son & daughter making in their father’s memory. It seems to me to fit very well with the lines, “We on the bridge now regret that you’re gone” and the casting of the wildflowers.