The River of Love
Paul McLaughlin

If a lifetime of love is like a river,
it is a river explored upstream
from its mouth toward its sources.

We awaken to love in a complex inter-tidal delta 
where the water is silt-heavy 
with swirling subsurface meanings:
we wander alone and with our lovers
among low sandy islands that appear
and disappear with every movement
of the mist, the tides, the currents.

In the main body of the river,
we glide through rich and fruitful farmland
where crops are planted and grow
and the soil is brought to life by the water:
at times we are confronted by
grumbling rapids and seemingly impossible
cataracts that we must find our way around:
we look for and find the blazes 
scored into the trees by earlier explorers.

In the upper reaches the meanings of love
are crystalline, like mountain springs
from which bubble feelings
we are no longer afraid to feel out loud:

I love you; in my love
I am committed to you and to our children; 
in my commitment, I trust you and I strive 
to be worthy of your trust; 
trusting and trusted, I am your best friend 
and you are mine; in our friendship, 
I desire and need you,
and I need you to desire and need me;
in our mutual desire, we make love
one another.

All this, and more, flows mystically
from the universal aquifer
and eternal water cycle of life
that unites and sustains us all.

August 2000