Brian Sneeden


The River of the Given

Let it go, that which you gave to me.
Put it in the water and let it float
or sink as it can, without our help,
without our touching it each time
the old need arises, and the reaching
muscle starts again. Put it in
the water and see if it folds
to one side, or manages to pull along
straight and even on top of its own
reflection, with its bright string
attached to the edge of something
far out. Without nourishment,
without the miraculous human DNA
threading its tiniest bone to ours –
watch and see how far it goes
on the food of its own breath,
like a pharaoh bundle drifting
among the fingerbumps of the reeds.
Give it back to where you found it
beneath the foam and debris,
weighing less than its shadow
on the air, before you spoke it a body
and the rest: heat, noise, name –
times when you did not know
you touched, and an invisible blood
passed into the thought and grew heavy,
until it sprouted hair, teeth. Put it
in the water now and let it go
to where the river starts over,
to where the parts of us gradually
flake off, and it can be again
someone’s food, someone’s joy.


BrianSneedenBrian Sneeden received his MFA at the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship and served as Poetry Editor for Meridian. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Harvard Review Online, Ninth Letter, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications. His manuscript, “Ithaka,” was a finalist in the 2013 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM Chapbook Contest.