Life might best be conducted as a downstream flow;
a remembered lesson from when, at twenty-something,
I ran the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
Fire and ice, blood and water,
Dig In! Dig In! they told me; no matter
if my paddle sunk into a black hole
comprised of no substance at all.
The hardest was at the beginning,
just like my life.
Then we bashed and shuddered,
united in that undulating rubber raft,
holding on with feet thrust under gunwales
weighted down only by the volume
of air they contained;
next the river smoothed out
into rills and eddies, emerald banks
buttressing swirling cowlicks of steel blue water
and we bailed out, leaving paddles behind,
sleek like otters in those chilly depths.
Lie on your back, feet pointed downstream,
the only caveat, bobbing like neon corks
in bulky life vest padding.
Forty years later, that liberation,
explosion of frenetic chaos followed
by utter calm and support of flow,
still teaches me how human life may be borne.
image: West Branch of the Penobscot River – pbase.com