Night by the River


Tidal flow fills the inlet, pushes
upstream and quiets the brook.

In the marsh a murmur of geese.
Owl on silent wing threads darkness
through darkness.

An utterance slips into the water;
– swims toward me.


Night by the river
stepping away from the fire
– moon still as stone.


Everyone I have ever been
sits around this fire, smelling like smoke
and thinking – this is it.

I walk to the river with the boy
who was afraid of the dark. The night
receives us with warm indifference;

sacred and familiar.

Are we an elder now, the boy asks
the old man we are becoming.

Sometimes, he replies. But usually
– we are just older.

Great Blue Heron photographed at dusk on a limb in the giant pine across the river.

Today’s prompt from Ingrid at dVerse is “Poetics: Poetry of Place and Space”. The task is to write the poetry of places and/or spaces which inspire you the most.

Author: chrisbkm

Chris Morrison was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and currently lives on the north shore of Nova Scotia.

47 thoughts on “Night by the River”

  1. oh wow – I love the idea of an owl threading darkness through darkness – how superb an image – and I love the last poem too – the idea of all that one becomes – the way one can now sit and enjoy the darkness, the stillness, lit by a campfire and how there is the “wisdom of the ages” – represented, perhaps literally, through the generations, and/or metaphorically –

    what I appreciate so much is how you capture the feeling of the surrounds – the amazing beauty of N.S. – I have a friend who has recently moved back home there and I’m always so enthralled when she shares her stories and adventures about the Maritimes. I’ve travelled a bit through Canada – but West – maybe one day I’ll be able to visit the East coast – the pull has always been hypnotic and magnetic for me – and I think your words and creations bring it to life, capturing “essences” of such beauty and space –


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks very much for your kind thoughts and comment! The owl image was taken directly from standing in the darkness as an owl passed close by, literally darkness threading through darkness. A simple, beautiful moment. So glad you picked that up!
      Nova Scotia really is a very special place. Love it here and would highly recommended a visit. Unfortunately, the north shore, where we live was quite devastated last fall by Hurricane Fiona. Including our little property. Large, large tracts of forest were flattened. Absolutely heart-breaking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too have had owls threading darkness – I live in the Laurentians – surrounded by trees and forest – and I’ve even called out to them and had them coming swooping in at dusk. It’s surreal. There’s nothing like Nature and her creatures to set one a bit tipsy.

        I’m so sorry to hear that you were direct hit by Fiona – the damage and destruction was/is so astounding. But nature will recover – with infinite patience and time, and maybe, a helping hand. I hope, as I was saying to my recently relocated friend, that the different cities and communities come up with “free tree/sapling” give-away programs to help with this process. (Last May, we had that crazy wind derecho storm blow through here and it was terrible – trees down all over the place – I think I still have pine needles and saw dust in my hair from all the post-op clean-up. Lots of damage all around. But of course, nothing like Fiona – which was just epic. Heartbreaking really.)


  2. the first stanza is so quiet and soothing, and the second taking us deeper into this special place and it’s relationship to those who inhabit it; special; I love poems about special places and your ‘little neck of the woods’ in Nova Scotia is certainly that —

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John, I’m glad you enjoyed these and that I managed to successfully convey some of the meaning of this place and space I inhabit. The poems span some years and I quite appreciate that in reworking and reading, all three can take me right back to the moments they describe.


    1. Thanks Bob! I can so easily remember the inspiration of that third one. Sitting alone by the fire. Probably began by thinking about how afraid of the dark I was as a kid and that now the night and darkness are my companions. That no doubt led to thinking of all those different people I have been and continue to become. Walking my musing through the darkness, down to the river (which would have terrified the child). Really glad you picked this one out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some amazing lines (“An utterance slips into the water”) and I especially love the third poem, with “everyone I have ever been” and “the boy/who was afraid of the dark” and “Are we an elder now, the boy asks”! They transport me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lynne. So glad you liked these! I can still see and feel the animal sliding into the water a very short distance across from me. Stand long enough in the darkness and the night opens itself up. Or perhaps it’s we who open up to the night…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful, especially this stanza:

    “Everyone I have ever been
    sits around this fire, smelling like smoke
    and thinking – this is it.”

    Great Blue Heron (bathed in late-day light?) … evocative as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! It is lovely here and I sure don’t need much more. Unfortunately our entire area was quite devastated by Hurricane Fiona last fall. It took me until the new year to put grieving aside and get back out and try and find joy somehow in the wreckage.


      1. Miraculously our house, barn and greenhouse went unscathed. Despite more or less all of the trees, including some giants being downed. We live on just under an acre and over the years managed to turn it into quite a natural oasis and addition to the surrounding ecosystems. We created a lot of natural privacy. That’s all gone now. I worked for weeks on cleanup. Curious what rebuilding and replanting will look like in the coming months.


      2. It will be a lot of work, but an acre is feasible. What tree varieties do you have? You’ll want some quick-growing deciduous I imagine to get it going.

        We have about five acres, mostly old meadow that has never been cultivated. Planting hedges and trees around the edges is taking forever.


      3. We have and had a nice mix of hardwood (ash, maple and birch) along with spruce and white pine. You can be sure we’ll be doing a relatively quick-growing mix. I will do some building as well. We’re fortunate to back onto the river (no houses on the other side) and mouth of a brook. While so much has been devastated there are still sources of beauty and wonder. The ocean is also at our doorstep. I’ve counted 116 species of birds from the back deck. Curious how the songbirds will react to the new spaces…


      4. We used to have proper gardens with good black loam. The soil here is heavy clay, and it dries like cement. And we have dogs. We’ve managed to plant a narrow strip around the house. It looks pretty enough.

        Liked by 1 person

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