>River Virgins in Santa Elena

November 24, 2010 at 7:04 am (Uncategorized)

>

 A poem and photo essay

Deep in Santa Elena Canyon
It finally happened.
My turn on the river,
one of the few here
who has not canoed or rafted or tubed
down the Rio Grande.

In Rock Slide
            Which is not grande.  Not now
            at low water,
            diverted upstream by
            dams and irrigation
to a little creek here
at Lajitas, where we put in.

At “metates”
Me up front in gleaming Number 30,
            also a river virgin,
born in Old Town, Maine.
Bud at stern;
on patrol, John and Elaine
in trusty Number 21.

Tricky spot at Rock Slide
            November. 
No wind, sleeveless,
dipping oars quietly
in the low water
gliding
then “running” the little riffles,
            sometimes hanging on rocks,
            good New Balance shoes (also Maine made) soaked.

Darning needles and mosquito hawks
in tandem flight
joined tail to head in love,
webbed wings a glistening escort.
            Bobcat ears twitched. 
            Mexican horses and cows switched allegiance.

Grinding hole at “metates”
Metates and a coiled fossil
lured us ashore,
            jay-blue sky
rimmed by an ancient white seabed
hugging intrusions from a hidden furnace.
 
By four-thirty, tents, sleeping pads, the required toilet,
cooler, life jackets, table, chairs, day packs
            and an old tire
found their places ashore
where the river
when swollen and grande,
wipes away the landscape.
            Bud brought little round steaks
            bordered in bacon,
            and vegetables and potatoes
            snuggled in foil.
A little wine (Bud again) and he read
Elaine’s favorite poem by
Robinson Jeffers about the vulture
who thought him dead:
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
     and
     become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes--
What a sublime end of one's body…
Bud asked, “What makes empires collapse?”
I didn’t have an intelligent answer,
            though I thought I should have. 
The incurious stars, the extravagant ribbon of Milky Way
burn over all empires past and future.  Later,
Orion’s Belt peeked through the tent at several
awakenings,
            panning across my reluctant vision.
Apprehensions about Rock Slide
drove my car into a flash flood
but I found an air bubble and
escaped in my dream
so I was not haunted come morning
when life jackets were zipped.

Rock Slide
Elaine and Bud preparing strategy for maneuvering
 I was on the Penobscot once, in Maine,
rafting with my son and nephew
and two fat ladies,
            oars frantically
            rowing air
            as we sailed over treachery.
 
But with Bud, who knew what to do,
I think woo-hoo
that was easy,
past Rock Slide and Fern Canyon,
            darting black phoebes, sandpipers rocking,
past a watching hawk, a bufflehead
            and Smuggler’s Cave
            onto a shallow reflecting pool,
waving to hikers
at the mouth with Chisos teeth
to the takeout.

We stopped at Castalon
for a V8 and Klondike bar,
a final ritual
and tribute
to the long-awaited seduction.
                                                           
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1 Comment

  1. RA said,

    >WOW, girl! Have a blast for me, too! Maybe in my next life…….

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