tree trunk




          “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri,”

               George Caleb Bingham, 1845




          The long sliver of the canoe

          glides through sun-struck mist,

          from forest-darkened to dawn-tinged water


          as if this were meant to be:  trappers

          in blowsy old-world smocks,

          grizzled frowning father,

          languid child-faced son.

          Here it comes,

          Ceeveeleezassionneas the French pronounce it,

          full of hiss and radical vowels, as much curse

          as bright idea.  In the faces of these

          entrepreneurs, one can see how the land

          possesses:  terror, hunger, cold nights

          on the ground—and beauty, stunning

          blow after blow.


                                     Tethered in the bow,                                                  in Americas Review

          a bear cub, silhouetted, elegant as a cat,

          gazes at its pointy-eared reflection,                                                          & in Homeland


          calm and absorbed as if it were not

          a bourgeois delicacy, not the beginning

          of the last of its kind  . . . .

                                                     Snags in the water

          near the shadowy island.  In the dark foreground

          one resembles a floating face. 


                                                        But look there

          where day’s warmth has begun to clear

          the feathery dove-pink sky, now opening

          to farthest blue.  What might you or I

          have done differently?