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River Banks
Carolyn Follett


River has a silver string that runs its length,
holds it to a source in the mountains.

River cradles its corded muscles of water
between high banks, giving the banks no thought

as it bites them with eddies,
eroding their lower flanks.

River thinks it is only water and the gristle
of currents, haystacking surfaces

and deep, bellowing falls
running for the sea, though

it does not know it is there.
River should take more care of its banks.

Banks are what hold it a river, give
direction, keep it mitering downward.

Without banks, river loses its way,
becomes a swamp and stills.

All my life I have chafed at river banks,
fighting to spread my currents

in whatever turn needed exploring.
The high song of freedom seemed

to be a music of 'no banks',
and yet the whole joy of rivers is pushing,

etching the banks to join the flow,
but having them hold.

This poem first appeared in The Marin Poetry Center Anthology (2010).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.


CB Follett, known to her friends as 'Lyn, loves the natural world: ocean, river, trees, stones, flaura and critters and how they all fit together. She is poet, artist, photographer and publisher. "Too many hats!!!" she declares, but concedes all those hats make for lots of fun. Recently named Marin County's poet laureate, 'Lyn is a native of Sausalito, California, and is looking forward to spreading poetry all over her county during her two-year term.  Blessed with "fabulous grandchildren , a fabulous dog and a great water view," she finds inspiration all around her. Read more about 'Lyn here.

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