Thoreau Upon the Merrimack — POEM

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Thoreau Upon the Merrimack

it’s 3 p.m. and a Friday

I’m stroking with urgency

within my sleek kayak

upon the placid waters

of the Delaware & Raritan Canal

***

they let us out early on Fridays

from profane corporate halls

to honor summer weekends

but I honor Henry Thoreau

***

who counted the day lost

when he did not spend several hours

outdoors

sometimes taking to his canoe

for day after endless northern days

***

I envy him both boat and brother

time, and strong arms for rowing

upriver all the way

from Concord to Concord

***

but most of all, I covet

his finding a “foundation

of an Indian wigwam

— perfect circle, burnt stones

bones of small animals

arrowhead flakes

— here, there, the Indians

must have fished”

***

in my life at its best

I row with Thoreau

Advertisements

BUT WILD, poem inspired by wild rice at Abbott Marshlands

For New Year’s Eve, no images, but words

Long ago, my editor at the Packet, and now my dear friend, Ilene Dube, insisted I become a blogger for them.

It was to focus on nature, especially of New Jersey.

But Ilene insisted that those blogs include my poetry.

As co-founder of Princeton’s storied Cool Women Poets, how could I refuse.

Here is one that was always a favorite at our jazz-like readings, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Oregon — “But Wild”.

Of course, this theme was crucial to my Packet blog, and remains so now.

This poem was inspired by experiencing wild rice, 10 to 12 feet tall, which it achieves in one season, at the Abbott Marshlands, with Mary Leck, botanist extraoridinare, who, with her husband (ornithologist extraordinaire) Charlie Leck, put that Marsh on the map, internationally.

BUT WILD

I seek a canoe

birch bark

still on the silk shore

of some broad Minnesota lake

in autumn

spice on the air

red-gold bittersweet twining

high among lakeside pines

water more green than blue

stiff/supple grasses parting

as we nose our silent way

to that center to which ancestors were led

by Grandfather Sky/Grandmother Moon

we make no sound

in whisper water

every clump of grass

bending in seasonal submission

my paddle enters the lake

noiseless as the sharpest knife

as my partner thrashes grasses

they bend to right/to left

filling his sweet lap

then our entire canoe

with brown black heads of rices

that have never been anything

but wild

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

August 24, 2001

KAYAKING AUTUMN’S FINALE

October now.

latest ever kayaked November 23 — Will we get out on the water in the month about to be born?

Meanwhile, for NJWILDBEAUTY readers, here are sketch notes of Saturday’s kayaking, thanks to splendid Steve of Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road.

Ilene Dube, who launched me as a blogger with NJWILD at the Packet, had suggested we try for it, weather permitting.  It did and we did.

Kayaking – Autumn Finale

Muted tones

Superb fellowship

Magnificent contrast of dark and light, gliding under the towpath and out into canal.

towpath ‘tunnel’ accentuated almost blinding effect of thousands of gold maple leaves, crisped and curled, newly afloat on bruise-dark water.  In all those perfectly designed points of all those leaves, bubbles of water seemed captured, set like jewels.  Crisp, gold, points     Soft round bubbles   Each bubble held its own rainbow     all accentuated under Alexander Road Bridge

Canal water serene, yet almost scowlingly dark

Brooding sky

1 fishermen, no fish    “What did you catch?”  “Nothing today.”

Not one turtle

Not a fish ring nor leap

No flowers anywhere

The frail mauve of sedum everywhere last time has been diluted by time and the season — somewhere between lavender fields past their prime and ashes of old fire on New England hearth

Bittersweet’s red/gold ornaments dangle from canalside trees, so that we can kayak through their tendrils

Tiny wind-driven wavelets hither and yon, what New Englanders call “williwaws”

Suddenly, the ‘bright-eyed’ Ilene spots a deer, lying down, peacefully, in canalside grasses, big dark eyes like chestnuts for the roasting.  It makes a strange sound as she paddles nearer.  “Do deer sneeze?”

Odd ominous taxicab-yellow curved pipes on either side of the deer, right alongside the canal — on their sides are letters spelling PETROLEUM

GOOD silent (!) canoeists glide by, skilled as Indians

so many people out on towpath, on foot, on bikes    many wave and smile with such connection as we paddle by

pure silence

peace

occluded sky paints surface of the slate-colored water

now well south of Alexander — nothing human but our craft and paddles

so beautiful out here, my companion murmurs, I just want to stay forever, curl up, sleep on the water, wake to this

my kayak bumps over something hard and soft at once     I laugh and say, “I’m glad we don’t have alligators here…”    (which were everywhere during my Savannah year, and everyone warned me, “Don’t go near the water!”

maple leaves look cut by very sharp scissors from very substantial gold foils

beside my prow, a rosary of bubbles — fish?  turtle?

no birds

Ilene, former Princeton Packet Editor, is a specialist in art in her current writing.  This entire afternoon, we’ve been gliding through Impressionism

hope not final kayak of 2014…