Each river flows two ways for at least an instant, whether a gasp at the source, the spring half lapsing before going on, or a watery wavering at the uncertain edge which joins her to sister or the sea. Nonetheless the long sigh of the estuary is something different, the Hudson easing swollen and recumbent upward halfway to Albany, plumping in her banks like the bluish flesh of an oyster, pregnant with pearl sheen even when no stone forms.

When you make a slide, for an instant as you capture the smear before staining it you can see life itself in microcosm in the mucousy swirl. A diviner wouldn't need science. She could look along this shore of the body's river and see lifeforms: virus, pearl, cancer, fetus, yeast spore.

The violet stain is like no color in nature. Alkali. Kali. Queen.

Instead she gazes on the samples with a neutral eye, labwise and detached as a river in December. In the microscope there is no difference between the birth of an infant savior or the death of a crone at year's end. Life is a river that flows both ways, it doesn't do to get caught up in the threads the water weaves. So the men taught who tutored her in these alchemies. Even so she sees dreams in algae, lotus blossoms in saline solution, a sister in the oyster.