River Trees

River Trees

Jelinski, Jack
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I love to touch wood that’s beaver-skinned

and worn to glass by flowing water.

 

There are willow saplings that startle.

Bent low by winter snow load

but still rooted to the bank

they get pulled downstream by the current

until the slender sinew of their grain

snaps them back to where

they are drawn down again

in a rhythmic ritual of water and wood

that sometimes seems like a magic trick.

 

There are snags bound by sediment and rocks

that rear and lurch

like strange water beasts

against the complicated hydraulics

of the deep water, lying in wait

for the unsuspecting.

 

The most amazing trees, the bouncy ones, are rare.

Once in a while

a marvelous tree

will become anchored solid

in a gravel bar

by the forces of the spring floods

so as to extend its trunk in space

above the water

with enough length and resilient strength

to offer a balance point

upon which a father can set a child

to bounce precariously above the current

and thrill to the danger

of that wild place.

 

I still marvel

when I come across them

now and then

and always stop

to bounce a sweet reminiscence

on the wind.

 

Art: "Kuskulana" & "Gallatin Peak" by James Weikert, Najarian Gallery

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