The River / The Source: Annotated Version

The River / The Source

A collage from words by Rumi, Antonio Machado, Psalms, Denise Levertov, Joni Mitchell, Sappho, a Havasupai medicine song, Kimmer Macarus, Claudia Schmidt
woven by Elliott batTzedek

I dreamt of a fountain flowing deep down in my heart.
I drank water from your spring
and felt the current take me. (1)
By what hidden channels
have you come, tell me, to me,
welling up with new life? (2)

My dreams are once again bound by water—
water from the live
rock of my heart, (3)
all fantasy and wanting and grief. (4)

How can we tell these apart?
From the sound of water, can you tell
if it is water of peak or valley,
garden or grove,(5)
torrent or tumult?

I have been a river of tears. (6)
I have been the pure stream of loving-kindness. (7)
I have tasted my waters grown salty
with tears of the exiled
while I continued flowing indifferently
through Babylon. (8)
I have grown cold, frozen, silent and slick
and watched my lover skate away. (9)
I have been washed with a secret I sometimes know
and then not. (10)
I have been a still pool, watching a woman
impelled by a need she did not understand
to cup her palms, drink of me, and say
Thank you, thank you for this day, a day of my life (11)
even as she knew I could give her no response
but my stillness.

Have you known a life with the rhythm of rivers?
The laughter of waters
that run through green reeds
and through the green rushes? (12)
Have you heard the millstone,
every grinding turn a halleluyah to its belief in the river?
No metaphor will ever be enough
to say what the heart knows when it hears
icy water babbling through apple branches, (13)
so you must never stop pointing
to the beauty (14) of the river
in its many-voiced abundance. (15)

To come to the river,
the brook hurtles
through rainy woods, (16)
laying down silt in ripples.
Under the water, tiny pebbles.
Flowing over them, the water
that gives us life.
The water is gliding toward the sea,
into the distance, beyond our sight. (17)

We can float down the river, together (18)
or in our separate murmuring currents
of doubt and praise. (19)
We can let go of our fear
of being absorbed into the ground
or drawn up into the air; (20)
all water goes back
to the river and the river
goes back to the sea,
and the sea
will never refuse it. (21)

This is what I am thinking—
do not refuse the water of the spring
of the rock of your live heart. (22)
It leads to the source,
it is right here. (23)

______________________________________

1. Rumi, The Essential Rumi, Barks translation, “Water From Your Spring”

2. Antonio Machado, Selected Poems, translated by Alan Trueblood “15”
I dreamt of a fountain flowing
deep down in my heart.
Water, by what hidden channels
have you come, tell me, to me
welling up with new life
I have never tasted before?

3. Machado, “Songs”
Once again my attention
is bound by water—
but water in the live
rock of my heart.

4. Rumi, The Essential Rumi, Barks translation “A Thirsty Fish”
All this fantasy
and grief

5. Machado, “Songs”
From the sound of water, can you tell
if it’s water of peak or valley,
town fountain, garden, or grove?

6. Claudia Schmidt, “River of Tears,” Greatest Hits
I did come upon a river of tears
it was the grief of my sisters and brothers

7. Machado, “Profession of Faith”
…May the pure stream
of loving-kindness that flows forever
flow in my heart.

8. Psalm 137
By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat
sat and wept
as we thought of Zion

9. Joni Mitchell, “River”
I wish I had a river/to skate away on

10. Rumi, “Story Water”
Study them,
and enjoy this being washed
with a secret we sometimes know
and then not.

11. Denise Levertov, “Human Being”
impelled as if by a need to cup the palms
and drink from a river,
the words, “Thanks.
Thanks for this day, a day of my life.”

12. Machado, “Songs”
Life today has the rhythm of rivers
the laughter of waters
that run through green reeds
and through the green rushes.

13. Sappho, Sweet Bitter Love, Barnstone translation
Icy water babbles through apple branches

14. Rumi “Put This Design in Your Carpet”
Any movement or sound is a profession of faith,
as the millstone grinding is explaining how it believes
in the river! No metaphor can say this,
but I can’t stop pointing
to its beauty.

15. Levertov, “Eros at Temple Stream
The river in its abundance
many-voiced

16. Levertov, “The Resolve”

17. Havasupai Medicine Song in Brian Swann’s Native American Songs and Poems
at the edge of the water
silt is being laid down in ripples
[…] under the water
tiny pebbles.
Flowing over them
the water we drink.
The water is gliding toward the north,
into the distance, beyond our sight.
This is what I’m thinking.
[…] It leads to
the source.
It is right here.

18. Kimmer Macarus, “Float Down the River”
Let us float down the river/together, together

19. Levertov, “Human Being”
and drifts to sleep, downstream
on murmuring currents of doubt and praise,

20. Rumi, “The Seed Market”
You’ve been fearful
of being absorbed in the ground,
or drawn up by the air.

21. Chant, unknown source, “The Ocean Refuses No River”
The ocean refuses no river, alleluyah

22. see note 3

23. see note 14

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