Study Guide

For Jennifer, 6, on The Teton

by Richard Hugo

For Jennifer, 6, on The Teton eText - eText

Text of the Poem

These open years, the river
sings ‘Jennifer Jennifer.’
Riverbeds are where we run to learn
laws of bounce and run.
You know moon. You know your name is silver.     5

The thought of water locked tight in a sieve
brings out the beaver’s greed.
See how violent opaque runoff moves.
Jennifer, believe
by summer streams come clean for good.     10

Swirl, jump, dash and delirious veer
become the bright way home
for little girl and otter
far from the punishing sun,
games from organized games.     15

This river is a small part of a bigger.
That, another.
We get bigger and our naming song gets lost.
An awful ghost
sings at the river mouth, off key.     20

When you are old and nearing the sea,
if you say this poem
it will speak your name.
When rivers gray,
deep in the deepest one, tributaries burn.     25