In the rip current or the whirlpool
where river runs into tide
Against the wet, wind, and rot
one yearns for something durable as stone
skillfully inscribed with words
one might find sealed in the Book of Life.
Still, watching a young Wampanoag
(how lean and muscular with an enchanting smile –
my daughters flush at his mention)
the way he creates a log canoe
using small fires and an ax,
I wonder of other ways to accompany
the soul’s journey into eternity.
Once he speaks of how the coals seal
a vessel and burn off weighty sap, I ask
how it handles in open water, especially,
knowing how difficult a modern canoe
performs when a slight breeze kicks in.
Confidently, he tells me about pontoon-like
stabilizers or jerry-rigged sails.
Even on open sea.
Then I mention
Robert Hodgson and two companions
who paddled a fourteen-foot log canoe
to the Carolinas in 1661
through Hell’s Gate by Manhattan
and came back, only to overturn
entering Narragansett Bay
where they were rescued by Natives
responding to their plight.
“I remember hearing that story,”
he tells me.
We become linked
through nine generations –
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