Can I Ask You About the Mud River?

You let yourself be washed over by the flood.

(At the apex, you have to choose.)

He is carried by the river.

Here, he earns his brown stripes

in a snow and charcoal coat.

(It changes him. He grows tall, reaches for the sky with thin legs.)

I get a locker at a gym for older women who practice healing rituals.

We have robes waiting for us in the shower,

and the water runs clear to the drains.

One of the women builds a lava mountain in the sink.

It folds into dark ash, a ravine.

She peers into the mirror,

says the treatment has worked.

Her cancer is gone.

(The women of my family have prophetic dreams of death and muddy water.)

In mine, the waters change.

I ascend the stairs of a tower.

The top floor extends limbs, a mushroom shape

above the base. My best friend is waiting here,

but she is disguised as someone else.

She rises to greet me, but then becomes eighteen

glassy eyed and hypnotized.

I talk to my poet grandfather about a prize.

I’m wearing turquoise, and this pleases him.

Underneath these branches, the creek runs clear.

You are carried by the currents.

I stroke your fur with its deep mud veins.

We shape, we shape, we shape the song.

The currents are rich with occulting wisdom, texture.

Your soft eyes see me.

Power behind like blood.

You watch me, help me alter, help me ground.

Your voice sings underground, layers accumulate.

The musical score behind my body

is a whisper of tree leaves.

In the heart where the mud river flows,

this is the land, the song banks a willing fire.

Ritual is growth, one breath away from home.

Let the floods come, your eyes said.

They spoke the truth.

The debris that remains in the flood plains after is the song.

As I write this, my great uncle struggles with his final breaths.

May the currents carry him home.

-Heather Fester

Heather Fester recently graduated with her MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. Heather has taught college writing and recently directed the writing center at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She will begin teaching in the fall as an English instructor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Heather has been a mystic, meditator, coach, activist, and student of Integral theory.

For more reading in mystery, paradox, and mysticism, check out our course: The Devotional Practice Of The Jesus Prayer: A Journey Into The Highest of The High