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Mary Oliver | A River Far Away and Long Ago

Kawasan Falls, Matutinao, Badian, Cebu, Philippines 

It was a sleepless night. I was reading this poem in the wee hours of the morning at McDonald’s Mango while waiting for Mara, the PR consultant of Terra Manna Camping and Resort. I didn’t know that we would visit the river that kept on flowing in my memory. Rivers are ardent travelers and drifters. Rivers are lives not lived. 

The river
Of my childhood,
That tumbled
Down a passage of rocks

And cut-work ferns,
Came here and there
To the swirl
And slowdown

Of a pool
And I say myself-
Oh, clearly-
As I knelt at one-

Then I saw myself
As if carried away,
As the river moved on.
Where have I gone?

Since then
I have looked and looked
For myself,
Not sure

Who I am, or where,
Or, more importantly, why.
It’s okay-
I have had a wonderful life.

Still, I ponder
Where that other is-
Where I landed,
What I thought, what I did,

What small or even maybe meaningful deeds
I might have accomplished
Among strangers,

Coming to them
As only a river can-
Touching every life it meets-
That endlessly kind, that enduring.

Friday Poetry translates a personal experience that reminds me of a line or an entire poem.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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  1. magsx2 says:

    Really nice poem, and I love the photos. 🙂

  2. Ellen says:

    very beautiful …

  3. Malou says:

    Wow! I love the wonderfully written poem and the lovely pictures. I hope the river and waterfalls stay pristine for the generations to come. 😉

  4. Nandini says:

    Loved these! 🙂

  5. […] A River Far Away and Long Ago ( […]

  6. Manny Gergo says:

    Speechless as I saw these pictures.:-) Great poem too.

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