Carol Barrett

Berries drop from the juniper overhead, roll to a stop
along the canal, where geese touch down, a fluttering
of waves. I marvel how the birds traverse rapids,

rest in shoreline eddies, swim out again. Upstream
they navigate lilies deep pink and languid white, opening
in the sun’s embrace, closing on evening shadows.

These sleek pads seem to float, stems hidden beneath
the green. I once paddled among such hardy flowers
on Silver Lake, canoe gliding slick as a whistle,

my father would say. He taught me to heft the boat,
carry it to the sandy landing, push off, one foot
already inside the ballast. Generations of ducks

have claimed these waters, habitat threatened
by rising temps, glacier melt running out. The old river
that feeds this canal dwindles with our greedy ways,

our carbon compulsion, our oblivion to the needs
of whirring dragonflies, stout toads, house sparrows,
silver salmon. The sand has baked the razor clams

on northern beaches. There won’t be even one batch
to fry up with cornmeal and butter. There won’t be
an evening picnic with driftwood bonfire for s’mores,

fires forbidden, the landscape laden with burns,
already mid-July. Firefighters spent after 15-hour shifts
in the trenches, trying to restrain the towering

flames, contain prodigious embers. They deserve
a dip in this floating calm, this throwback to a wetter
clime, no end to the cool supply of water, trout,

geese, their fuzzy goslings hugging the shore.