River Spells: Part Three. {poetry}



A series of short moments of contemplative celebration written while I was camping at the Yuba River over the past three weeks. From nature, I learn to be human. I draw on nature as a resource and mirror through which I see myself and the world. And as the late Joseph Campbell said, Return your nature to Nature.

Lie Still

Today, simply lie still
on the big rock
listen to the rapids
feel the air cool
as the clouds gather
as the wind lifts
your sarong
as the green eyes
of the river
watch you


Morning wakes me
with warm hands
I guess I forgot
to post my
Do Not Disturb
sign at my campsite
because all night
two sweet smoking boys chortled
while I teetered
back and forth
across the edge
of sleep
catching shooting stars in the corner
of my eye

The river sprite
woke early
wanting to cuddle
and chatter
about the puzzle
of people
in her home
eat a breakfast
of calf’s liver
and nettles

Reluctantly I rise
only because
I have to pee
I’ve been putting
it off for hours

I get up
pull an angel card
from her bag of tricks:

Acceptance, the only path
that ends suffering

I practice all morning
while the naked
yoga people
do planks
and headstands
on my favorite
morning rock
and the elderly man
in a fishing hat
blares NPR
from his phone
tells me
we have to learn
to share
I suggest I could
share a pair
of earbuds
with him

Patiently I lie
on another flat stone
bathed in light
nibble a protein bar
until the yogis
bow off
with their Namaste
and I reclaim my morning throne

A tiny dried flower
greets me
pink petals
against gray stone


Bird-Man called
last night
first contact
in two years

casual, how’s the river
he bought a mobile home

of course I’m the one
who has to say
what made you call
after two years
after ghosting me
after I had to put
my heart
back together
without you

you weren’t ready
to talk

how easy
it is
for you

compartmentalize, put me in a box
in your garage

take me out
when you want

put me back
when you’re done

well, I’ve grown

not only is your box
too small
your whole damn
garage is too small

I’m grateful
for closure
for connecting
without an iota
of desire
for you

so what if
you were the most amazing
sex of my life

so what if
your songs
made me cry

you really have no idea
how badly
I broke
my heart
on you

you really believe
flying away
is less destructive
than communicating

I’m lucky
you flew away

Beautiful Mess

I’m sitting
in the river
on a rock
carved by Picasso
thinking back
on my life
huh, what a mess!
The river responds
well, a beautiful mess


The river says
joy and sorrow
come from the same place

They are two currents
of the same river

Follow the flow
of either one
and you grow
your capacity
for the other

One is easy downstream
you simply let go
the other is challenging upstream
you gotta work

They are both
easy and hard

You choose

Eventually, they become
one confluence

Read Part One here and Part Two here.


Meredith Heller is a poet, singer/songwriter, and author of the poetry collection SONGLINES. She teaches poetry-writing, leads MoonTribe Write of Passage Nature Program, and hosts Siren Song, a women’s singer/songwriter night. A nature girl who spent 15 summers solo-backpacking, she hikes the trails daily. She is mused by nature, synchronicity, and kindred souls. You could contact Meredith via her blog.


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