Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

The Ottawa River by Night

Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

The Ottawa River by Night

Article excerpt

In the full moon you dream more.

I know where I am: the Ottawa River

far up, where the dam goes across.

Once, midstorm, in the wide cold water

upstream, two long canoes full

of children tipped, and they all held hands

and sang till the chill reached their hearts.

I suppose in our waking lives that's the best

we can hope for, if you think of that moment

stretched out for years.

Once, my father

and I paddled seven miles

along a lake near here

at night, with the trees like a pelt of dark

hackles, and the waves hardly moving.

In the moonlight the way ahead was clear

and obscure both. I was twenty

and impatient to get there, thinking

such a thing existed.

None of this

is in the dream, of course. Just the thick squareedged

shape of the dam, and eastward

the hills of sawdust from the mill, gleaming as white

as dunes. To the left, stillness; to the right,

the swirling foam of rapids

over sharp rocks and snags; and below that, my father,

moving away downstream

in his boat, so skilfully

although dead, I remember now; but no longer as old. …

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