“Men in Two Canoes,” Albert Bierstadt, WikiArt.

Part 1: Something Stirred Inside

Rhythm of paddles, we glided across lake
Waters, anticipating another portage, rocky
Heights, descending to fast running stream,
Our usual encampment, edge of falls, rope
Between two trees, suspending oilskins,
Makeshift tent, night beneath Athabaskan
Stars. Prairie country, horses, open ranges,
Log cabins, canoes were our work-horses,
Heavy burdened, house and home for
Trappers and explorers, wild-restless souls,
Yearning for next river turn, weeks and
Months blending from spring to winter.

We were navigators, distance, food, and
Time measured in days, depending on
Weather, not so much snow, but ice runoff,
Flooded streams, taking to high ground,
We avoided “the roar.” Yes, the roar killed
Men, horses, tore up rafts, like thunder-
Clap, once heard, it was too late, man-
High wall of water destroying all in its
Path. Man with no flour, pemmican, no
Powder or flints wouldn’t survive winter,
As saying goes, life amongst these lakes
And rivers was a strong headwind.

Clerk at hardware store, I heard the tales
Of lake life, freedom, talked to old timers,
News of Fort Good Hope, Smith, McKenzie
River, pack mules loaded, I was left behind,
Hot bedroom in boarding house, sometimes
I slept beneath the stars. Then it happened,
No one can explain it. Something stirred inside,
Couldn’t live with myself, bought a mule,
Provisions, greenhorn striking out to high
Prairie. For half my food, I partnered up,
Trapper with taste for spirits and tobacco,
Thus began my diary, travels of Aaron Ross.

Thanks for reading this new poetic series with a new male
character, new setting. We will both see where this is going.
Up a river without a paddle?  

 

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