The River: A poetic sojourn into the afterlife

The River: A poetic sojourn into the afterlife


When you’re in your coffin
clanging down the river with all the other coffins
in the water of the next world all of them bumping and jostling against
one another the contents thrown about like riding in a small plane, you’ll peek your head up to see what the racket is,
you’ll see the other coffins Looking around you’ll see nothing but coffins
and river and two banks distantly flanking the river and the biggest tallest dark
stretching above So dark it feels like this place, big as it is,
must be inside some sort of bigger place There’s still stars though, wherever this
river is, you can still see stars And while looking around you’ll see that
there are other heads peeking out of their coffins You yell across the dark asking
“You know where we are?” And someone will answer back,
“Nope, you?” “Nope” you say back You ask someone else, “What about you?” “No… I wonder where this is” and someone else will say “I don’t know, but it’s big” and someone else, “Yeah, it’s vast” And someone else,
depending on what part of the river you’re in, may say “Yeah vast, like the backside of Sean Brown” And even though no one on the river knows who
Sean Brown is, everyone on the river will laugh The chuckles will subside
until a quiet sets in over the laughter a quiet like you sat down in somebody else’s church and somebody will then ask somebody else, “Where are you from?”
and they will say, “Texas, what about you?” “Boston”
“Boston?” “Yeah, Boston”
“I know someone from Boston. Cait Lee you know her?” “No”
“What about about Stephen Ellis?” “I’m actually in Somerville”
“Somerville?” “Yeah, Somerville”
and someone else will then yell out “Somerville?! I know someone in Somerville”
“Who?” “Nick Cathcart, know him?
“I do, I do actually! I do know him!” “Yeah?”
“Yeah!” “Oh man, small world”
“Yeah, Nicky’s a great guy” “He is, I hadn’t seen him in 5-10 years
and when I did he had a first edition of an E.E. Cummings book to give me, great guy” And the first person probably won’t know who
E.E. Cummings is but will still agree that yes, Nicky is a great guy And then it will get quiet again
until someone else asks, “Where is it that we are?” and no one will answer,
a few people shrug All of you will look into the stars that are
collecting overhead You’ll try to think of someone you might know
that lives in Somerville or Texas, or Florida, or France, just to have something to talk about with the
person you never met before just right now Just to share something in the dark quiet
even though all of you are already sharing the river and the sound of the current
bumping all of you into one another and you’ll wonder where the water is taking you and how long it will be before it brings you there and what there will be like, if it’ll be like here on the river, with all of us sitting in our boxes trying to split the dark by sharing our voice with others, if it’ll be like how it was in the world
before this one

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About the Author: Emmet Marks

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