“Three Rivers Meet, Become Falls” by Liz Robbins

Liz Robbins


In the documentary film about the famous architect
and his buildings, the lesser architect tries
not to sound bitter and fails; in the interview,
he describes why he’s the naysayer in a chorus
of yesses for the famous one’s work:
I hate to say he’s overrated, but…
He sits there, buttoned up, talking high
and wounded in his throat, as though in a moment
the humidity of his pride might devolve into a river,
slip in trickles past his own pressed buttons.

Fear courses like a river as he watches himself
projected on the screen at the film’s premiere,
winnows slipping like voices up his bloodstream.

His friends come round to congratulate his debut,
and in his workroom, to the only one he trusts,
he begs, I wasn’t terrible, was I?
Grief nearly slips over the stones of his eyes,
a river so familiar, it goes by many names,
each source of grief named by its sufferer,
like what the architect gives his unfinished buildings.
And his friend says nothing, thinking of the many
forms of descent, of the toy-like models
on the desk behind them, each roof designed
to tilt down, to deflect rain.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007

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