Remembering Upriver

Noli timere – Seamus Heaney

Around the bend the river widens, weighted with sun
and drying grass. I turn the canoe past a bush
of deadly nightshade, purple splashed gold. Crickets
wind their gears above the waning heatbugs.

September, like the sudden taste of wild grapes –
sweet, then sharp. The channel turns back
on itself. Wary, a muskrat slips the matted
bank, swims to feed on cattails.

Here, I stay my paddle, let the current gentle me,
gathering. The den beneath the surface opens upward
into chambers safe from fox and owl. Blind
and new,questions brood to ripen over years.

At the next loop, pines crowd the edge, roots
ragged. Further, at the yellow farmhouse on the hill,
a door slams, a man calls. No need for stopping
there, nor where I slide through narrows.

Returning, late for lunch, I step out in mud and leaves
past the landing stone. A chickadee dashes down.
I pull the boat over coarse sand, into the woods,
trudge uphill to the broad terrace of home.