On the Black River in November


Swamp of frozen cattails clacks on an icy wind
Two hawks cheep circling north
We glide through summer's dying growth
On the Black River in a foretaste of winter

Against a sluggish current, on the verge of ice
Our paddles bite the black water
All but scaling crystals dropping from swamp growth
Silent on the Black River.

On this day the hunters are gone
Ducks rise in small flocks without alarm
As we come upon them in our green canoe
Ghosting slowly on the Black River.

The channel narrows
Beside a hunting platform in a tree
Red ice encrusted berries startle
Two quiet paddlers on the Black River.

A small rip of wind and current
Recalls some great stream of the old growth forests
Canuck voyagers of long ago
We are those trappers now on the Black River in November.

David J. Leshan

11/16/97

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