I Used To Swim The River

Columbia River Gorge, December 2017

I remember swimming against your current, only to find myself stuck, muscles not strong enough to make progress. I learned to swim with you.

I remember heading for your deepest channels, where the big ships travel, catching large wakes. Your cautions were always whispers. I learned to hear you.

I remember bumping into sandbars, frightened, thinking I had swum into a sea lion. You let me feel the gritty sand in my hands and upon realizing what it was, I stood upon those sandbars, acting like I was walking on water. No one noticed, except for you and me.

I’ve lain upon your shores in the heat, where your gritty beach stung my bare feet. I searched for the softest sand and a tall shrub to shade myself. Overheated, your kiss, a cooling, minute wade.

I sang songs about you as a child, taught to me in schools smelling of waxed floors. Songs of commerce, soul, and lives. Those melodies still swirl about you and me, as do their themes.

You’ve seen me reflect upon you with lover’s eyes from on top the gorge. Countless reflections. Your expression is so vast, few grasp its content. Yet, you and I know, all who look will reflect.



 I’m sorry our dust has been kicked up high and settles down inside you. I no longer swim. I hope you can forgive me.

39 Comments on “I Used To Swim The River

  1. Powerful. A few years ago on a National Geographic tour I saw the Columbia River Gorge. Tremendous experience. Your poem gives it new life for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! It appears “wow” is all I need to be saying. But I’m making an attempt.

    I was looking for another word than “wow” and came up with two “Heart” and “Heavy”. Neither are good or bad words, but I just wanted to ensure in my world, both are good.

    The more you love the bigger your “heart” is, and the heavier it feels. I feel such heaviness in your writing, so deep and soulful.

    I guess the heaviness is also because of how grounded it makes one feel.

    I feel blessed to be “meeting you” (so weird these modern times, we meet without really meeting)


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: I Used to Swim The River – The Solitary Mind

  4. Yes, Woody Guthrie was hired by the Bonneville Administration to pen songs about the river. On another note, we used to go and visit Chief Joseph in Cougar Washington. He would teach us Native American songs about the river. (Among other areas of nature in the PNW) Thanks for your insightful message.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The story is both beautiful, and beautifully told.

    The picture is stunning, and makes me so very homesick.


  6. Pingback: I Used To Swim The River — Elan Mudrow – emwritestuffs

  7. Lovely writing and I can sense multiple layers within the story ^_^ The end line really makes it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. Isn’t that one of the most beautiful things I ever read. Adventuring and exploring on our own as kids. Learning to test ourselves, learning from Nature, becoming it’s friend. Reading about kids doing the exact same thing! Water got in my eye.


  9. Creative nostalgia and , as usual, your personal “Shadows” are lurking in the meaning. Do not fear the “Forgiveness” will be sweet…… “Roll on Columbia, Roll On “


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