Lively and eager, perhaps impetuous, my river leaps and tumbles by my cabin door.
I watch her go.
She doesn’t know
My need to launch into her waves, to part her foam with boat and oar.
But ‘tis not time. My need must wait for thawing days.
She doesn’t care,
Nor prone to share
Her channels deep and shallows wide—her colder phase.
My river’s need is like my own—to hurry on from where we are.
My Sarah waits
Like Heaven’s gates.
Separation—here to there—by miles of water and of need, a drift too far.
* * *
The valley blossoms bright and warm—green and pink and white.
And too, my stream,
A golden gleam
Within the eye of April’s sun—a beckoning of silver light.
Three years and twenty days it’s been, and longer every hour.
Her auburn hair,
Dimpled smiles to extinguish wrath, and terminate the river’s power.
“Sarah,” I say, and run to fetch the red canoe
I made by hand
On river strand
A hundred miles from Sarah’s last adieu.
The craft is cedar with thwarts of pine, and sealed to watertight.
Her paint is new.
Her track is true .
She’s slow to tip, and fast to run the valley’s length despite
The churning rapids, narrow troughs, and endless flooded plain
To take me where
I shall declare
My need for all that Sarah is, and my hope her heart might contain
Room enough for such as me, a man who’s lived in cabin crude,
In cabin strong,
Through nights too long
Where affection has no place to live, where love is not accrued.
My launch at dawn is swift, my boat a fresh delight.
She handles well,
She does excel
The strength of lesser bark canoes, which were the woodsmen’s plight.
Forty miles, my first day out, assisted by the drop and flow.
Two more days
Before I gaze
Into the depth of Sarah’s eyes—those eyes with love aglow.
Wider is the river now, and slower is my pace
To her abode
On river road—
A cottage set among the pines, my own sweet Sarah’s place.
I’ve run the last of rapids wild; I’ve spent the third day out.
One more bend
I shall transcend
The loneliness, the bitter winds, the last of hope and doubt.
* * *
I guide my craft to open beach, where sand and twilight intertwine.
A babe so fair
With auburn hair
At play on Sarah’s lawn of clover, grass, and climbing vine.
They step from cottage door to porch, Sarah and her spouse.
“An honored guest,
Please stop and rest.”
His invitation real and clear, but who can enter Sarah’s house?
Not me, not now, and nevermore; my fate is fixed in death.
My river cries;
Is my demise.
I launch into cold nothingness; too late to take life’s sweetest breath.