Poem: "Rivers"-Inauguration of Dr. Subra Suresh - Carnegie Mellon University


Jim Daniels
Jim Daniels

A poem for the inauguration of  Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh.
By Jim Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University

A river cannot turn around
in the face of mountains, soldiers,
borders, denial. We look back,
but we can't go back. The past
streams behind us, and a river goes

where it needs to go. A river carries on.
A river curls and bends. When a river changes
path,  it changes forever, and we are transformed
having crossed the map's lines
having crossed the book's borders,

trusting the heart's familiar rhythm.
The heart is our guide, the heart
that contains all numbers, solutions, problems.
The heart is our river, too, the silent guide
in search of peace, no matter how we connect

the stars. The river accepts all other rivers.
Rivers that feed it, make it stronger.
One river. Two rivers. More. Do not watch
from the shore, anchored, unchanged.
The earth is moving. We cannot

stand still. The river says come on in,
the water's fine
. The river is lying
just a little. Its rough, rocky rapids
can pull us under. We hold on tight,
hand grasping hand.

Here, where two rivers make one,
we create islands of discovery,
bridges of innovation. Here, where ideas
meet, unite, and carry on, the river sings
a song of change, an invitation to dance

together. Here, in this room of pomp
and plenty, the dazzle of a new source,
let us all close our eyes and imagine:
we are on a river at night, together, and alone.
Listen to the sound of knowledge and change:

it never sleeps. It crosses borders,
it finds its way.