Each spring the rivers rose, I pushed my boat
out to the drowning forest. Hares
stood on tree stumps, shaking. Each to each
rattled the babble of snowmelt, clung
to the last of dry ground.
Whole villages of them.
The birch girls, up to their knees in water,
waved at me, and their springbright arms
budded small and tender. And the river sang,
in the days of my spring, oh how the river sang
my hare-heavy boat tilting into summer
all the way to the dry shore and the joyful leap.
Year after riversweet year
My face wore in, moss-laden like the old wood,
but still I rowed out each spring, until the water
went shallow. Until the forest
wilted with slow poison.
I have clung to this ground
beyond hope, beyond stubbornness—but now I will row
for the last time, steer with the oars of November
my hare-heavy boat up the ghosts of riverwings,
look for dry ground
between the flooded fields of the moon.