Red River, Black Water

Walking in the deepening shadows of the trees

My head bowed, focus on my pressing feet

I do dare not to look ahead

The forest’s silence fills with rushing

The river is calling me in

 

Will I stay in the descending shade

Or push myself into the fluorescence

I bait myself with hopes of reckoning

To find peace in such a crisis

 

As I approach the raging waters

They whisper of fate and solace

Yet I know they offer only an ending

 

Examining the rugged span of land beside me

A thought invades my mind

The loneliness of this time is sickening

This inner victim hungers for a witness

Which brings me to glance upwards

 

There, across the great expansion

Stands a figure shrouded in blackness

She is still with her gaze on me

 

She gives me weakness and yet wonder

From so far away I can see her so clearly

As she raises her hand in judgement

 

Instead of guiding me into the frozen river

Her frail fingers aim beyond me

I turn to search for an unexpected companion

But there is nothing but the forest trail

 

The water carries a hushed command

A Solemn order to go back

I press my hand up to her image

In the instant the figure shatters

Her frame dissipates into many darkened corners

 

My life is spared once more from impediment

By some existence I cannot verify

As I turned back to the path

Some unknown piece of me awakened

 

I once lived in a cabin locked away by spruce trees down a distant road, about 40 miles away from the nearest town. It was quiet and pristine, especially during the winter when the temperature would drop down to negative sixty degrees and my oil heater would fail to where I would have to rely solely on the wood stove and some inexperienced wood splitting experience. It was near the Tanana River, a raging monster of silt and water that would uproot trees and drag large logs under the surface. Where I used to walk down to it and sit along the muddy shorelines. I was new to Alaska, inexperienced in the environment, and lonely during the long winters as I had come to the state without knowing anyone. It was a difficult and interesting time, I had this mental struggle with the changes I was enduring and the darkness definitely didn’t help, I’ll admit that there was a time it went for the worst options, the wrong options. I often thought of the danger of the water, the odd draw of it, that L’appel du vide one finds occasionally. Something turned me back, I am not sure what it was, but something kept me from following through with any of my thoughts. I am grateful for whatever it is, and this poem is for that.

 

 

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