By the Rivers of Babylon

by The Cowl Editor on October 21, 2021


the Euphrates river
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Fiona Clarke ’23


The burning sun runs its blazing hands along the wildcat, 

The ocean, upsets it, and offers a remedy then. 

Take and dissolve beneath your tongue—How often?— 

As often as you need—For how long?—

Until you, yourself, dissolve. 

How can there still be water? 

For crying out loud there is a cure, 

But for silent mortal flesh, there is only a pillar of cloud before me 

And a pillar of salt behind me, 

And a gryphon in the bed beside me. 

Oh, no doubt, one of the damnable Irish men behind me, 

Who saved up all his laughter for his last day, 

And his tears for its either-night—

No doubt he can explain this well. 

And listen, for in answer to my shoddy prayers, 

A knock-off Solomon speaks, and 

Out of the mouths of the depraved, beloved, 

Ramshackle sense shall come forth. 


I will ask you, then 

“Were you in the swim last night?” 

I could have sworn I saw you balanced on one hand  

On the banks of the river, and on the ties of the railroad—  

But then, love and a hole in the earth  

Sometimes run all together.  


Today I stand transfixed where the orange trees grew,  

For when I went outside to look at the stars,  

I saw a cleft in the chin of the earth  

That I had not seen before,  

And I saw the rain pouring out its heart  

Where I used to pour out mine like water,  

And now the sea is full.  

Today I stand transfixed where the orange trees grew,  

And look and see: every surface is  

One face shifting into another.