Afternoon Poem, March 7, 2015


I did not feel fear until night fell

I had missed my landing, I knew

The old man had given me clear directions

But as I considered it now, it was clear that he knew I had not listened

I could see nothing but black water and black sky

I finally passed a campsite where a boy sat under a lantern

I called to him to ask if he knew how far I was from Bull Falls

But he did not answer, wanted to avoid all contact with

Any so crazy as to be on this rushing stream in the complete darkness

I was inside a cloud that rested over the river and did not see the flock of geese

That took off in a sound like thunder

I almost fell from the boat

And wished again and again that I had never set foot in this canoe

And never floated on this river.

I imagined Bull Falls as a hundred foot drop

and wondered where I might get to some dark shore

and wait for morning

The next sound I heard was a high splash

and I looked to my left, in the direction of the sound

and rounded the next bend and saw the lights of the pickup truck

Over the water and reflected in the water like contrails

The high, splashing sound was the long net that the old man

Casted again and again above the next shoal

I called to the old man and he yelled at the top of his voice

“Come hard left.  Give it all you’ve got.”

I paddled with all the strength I had left and he threw his net to me

and I thus barely avoided

The vacuum draw of the cataract that was Bull Falls.

Copyright 2015


The poem ON THE RIVER: A DREAM is now posted in its entirety (without breaks) at the Shelton College Review.  Here is the link:

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