Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Only Salt Seas in Northern Lake Country

Written while waiting to give birth.

Small Whale
surfaces near my boat as I stand watching, waiting.
A fin slides along, just under the skin,
rides the length of the keel.
Sometimes bumps--push--
against the gunwhale.
Sitting astern, on my knees,
I wait for another sighting.
This silent companion,
more felt than seen,
glides along with us.
My paddle in hands, grasped firmly
to pull as hard as I can,
forward in great surges against the water.
We will slice though the grey,
splashes echoing against and under the small boat.

Perchance, if the wind picks up,
under this lowering sky,
we will ride peaks curdled with warm white foam,
slapping hard from one grey glassy hill
to another.
At our backs wind drives us,
faster than a runner to the far shore.

In our faces, we pull straight into the wind,
riding up and down the great swells,
now nigh four feet high,
one at a time, straight through and over
each solid hill of water,
nose high in the air,
pulling to the utmost,
from deep and low in our bodies,
in unison, singing strategy and courage to one another,
stroke and stroke and stroke and pull
across the long windy open water.

Or, given calm skies,
we may enjoy the gentle shelter of the quiet sunsteeped bay.
Along fingers of lake reaching through mats of hairy grassy rooty turf,
gentle through the sliding lillies,
sitting queenly open to the sun,
even slip, easy as a carved toy boat
past the narrow steep rocks,
right on by hidden tearing rocks,
under a low snag;
just around submerged deadheads
glide out into the open calm of the next lake.

Then--breathe easy,
rub our eyes
refill our water bottles from the deep still
open water
drink deep and long.

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