THE duck-blind by the shore, the rotting boat,
The lily-float, the sluiceway slimed with green,
The molten glaze of water on the dam,
Still here — and here I am,
And only half a lifetime lies between.
Old rivers never change.
Nothing is vivid here. Nothing is strange.
But stranger than a wraith
I see myself on this familiar path.
Here blooms my mandrake grove
With floating tents above its musky flowers,
And here fly-fishermen, intense with love,
Straddle in boots and jeans the watery hours,
While, at their backs,
Derelict river-shacks
Bleach upward to the clean white street above.
Now in an eddying curve the current rests
Where, young and nude, we came to dip at night
And jubilant with fright
Cradled the moon between our virgin breasts,
Hearing the ten o’clock, Chicago-bound,
Rip the still valley with its claw of sound. Here, rolled in blankets on the friendly ground,
We planned our futures full of dreams and doubt
And left Wisconsin and the river out.
It came at last,
The future that is past.
The old west wind blows up.
The painted cock above the tavern swings.
And here I walk, while in its muffled cup
The mournful clapper of remembrance rings.