The dipper by Denis Reid

Only we see death. The animal is free
and carries his death behind him,
just as before him he carries God,
so that when he moves he moves into always,

Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke

Only we see death. The animal is free.
My west coast totemic bird cheeps
amazement at the wonder of its own
existence, anonymous in cedary
canyon bottoms wet from water
falling. I found a skeleton once,
a folded down animal. A mink, or otter,
I cannot tell, though I keep its bones to
let me know it closed its phlegmy eyes
and shrunk into death. The dipper dips

and carries his death behind him.
And above the falls I have slid under slim
branches until my head was just above
the breathless water. The balsam kingdom
could kill me with vast and beautiful
indifference. The love I am always in
sees not the rain that aches with clarity
on the territory it washes into beauty.
The granite, criss-crossing green and white,
is an eroding checker board. Dip and

just as before him he carries God,
without the pre-frontal cortex prod.
The bone above my right eye, scarcely a
metatarsal tip beyond lies conscious I awed
by my 11 second existence melded
into my next little bit of edited animal
world. So I have the memory
the brainless log would have robbed
were I not to have slipped its unthinking.
The dipper blinks and is on the other side

so that when he moves he moves into always,
as streams do. Anonymous vertebrae trays
make the way to escape unlike the way we came
crowded by womb and doctor faces,
their oblong, mirror, forehead faces ablaze
with looking into the future of us. I slid
the rim of waterfall among the dipper dips
where water curled me into the birth
of losing me. I was and always am a part
of nature. It’s man I can’t stand.

Notes:

Rilke – as streams do.
Memory – working memory is 11 seconds long, a splinter the mind melds seamlessly into the next 11 second splinter.

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