— for Jim Byrd
Our canoe rounded a sheltered river bend
collecting calm emerald water
until it glistened in a slow curved smile.
The towering trees punctuated its mirrored speech.
From our raised paddles, words escaped
unannounced as water droplets
spawning concentric ripples
in an undulating desire toward shore.
Who is naming these silent tremblings,
sneaking up, canoe-like along the river
where, like deer coming down for an evening drink,
our hearts stopped, afraid to slake their thirst?
Who will stand guard while they ask the river
where the trees stop and the reflections begin?
Through the trees the wind is trickling.
Only the shore answers in a slow curved smile.
Years later, while drinking from separate rivers
we keep asking each other the same questions,
and our hearts, no less thirsty or afraid,
find nothing in the backwaters, except ourselves.