Downstream – Poetry by Stephen Robert Via

Alfred Sisley – Banks of the Loing, Autumn

The river’s current sprung past
where he presently stood staring,
through rippling, jagged glass,
at ancient stones, older than he
yet with smoother faces, made young
by the gentle, unrelenting water.

The river was made for me now
he thinks, but its younger self
glistened for his grandfather before he
began, and will run over the unwearied
feet of his sons at morning’s first light,
when breath mingles with mist.

Trout sprint along the river’s
marathon course, weaving through grey
mountains, fanning wide across green
valleys as a full moon fades into a pale
sky, and an unseen wolf howls
a timeless and temporary sound.

Across the river a lone grizzly stirs
a bronze boulder come alive—awakened
from an old, silent slumber; we retreat
downstream, where all would venture,
meanwhile the hulking creature casts
anchor in the meandering, eternal flow.

He—or I—gaze upstream along the river,
watching the bear paused there patiently
staring with glossy eyes back at him and me;
so I returned here, some time later,
to remember what that feels like again.


About the Poet

Stephen Robert Via is a writer and literature teacher from Atlanta, Georgia. Whether in a classroom full of students or in the solitude of his home (or as much solitude as can be managed with two young daughters), Stephen strives to cultivate a love of language and sharing that passion with anyone willing to lend an ear.

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