River Trees

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