Why was it you so loved moving water:
whether it was the leaping plunge off a shelf of rock
or the slow shift of a human contrivance , the lock
you were equally enjoined, fascinated?

What was the hurdling palm heel force, what the aching arching collapse,
what the long weight’s heavy fall and the steady ever ready rise,
the push up, the sink down, the swirl of eddy whorl, whirl down?

What place was filled by the growth or diminishment
of that chamber of stream or its lost bottom?
What could never be filled however many times
you stood so close to the edge of the cataract’s precipice
or how long you looked into the hold of the gates?

What in you rushed over a torrent, what stealthy slipped away
down that human exit elsewhere? What escaped, what could never get away?

Did you find there the mother who left you so young
or was it the father who was not as present as he might have been?

Now that you are so finally gone there can be no final answer
except the answer which does come when there is ever so finally no answer.

It is the perpetual mystery why you gave so much so freely,
how you rushed so prodigiously and never went anywhere,
what you did that buoyed so many when you seemed always
disappearing to where we knew not when, and yet you were
always there whenever irrepressible force was needed.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.