Dignity and the River

Luke Hankins

listen to this poem

The torrents of rain have passed, but the river
in the backyard boils up with mud
and sloshes back and forth. Does it remember
the now-passed downpour the way a man would
remember, watching such a river, the power
of a force too much for him to bear without
it showing as a turmoil—now he’ll bow (Or
is it less voluntary?) in a gale-force, wait it out
bent and puny, as unmanly as a reed;
now he’ll spring up shaking at what’s passed—
a turmoil in his words and actions, his need
for pity and his need for love fast
swelling the banks of his prodigious dignity?
Dignity—from the Latin for what is fitting.
But nothing fits anymore. You see,
it’s a fit of weather that fills him to splitting.

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