The Pilgrimage to Rest (and Travel On)

The canoe sang all the way
on the roof of the car
as if it remembered this highway

North by the Pole Star
a dark lake is draining south under the Dipper,
slung like a hammock
between the beaverdam and the waterfall
but never resting

The canoe sang all night to the moon
as if remembering
the sound of water at the bows

Leaping every minute from its granite lip
into song, the water falls:
stroke by stroke against the slow, perpetual
adjusting of waterlevels
from lake to lake, we paddle closer to its mist
and thunder, step
by step beneath our upturned keels we climb
toward the northern divide

The moon calls down
to some memory of tide in us as we drive
under our upturned hull
against the wind of our chosen direction

Rounding the rock face where the water falls
we cease our paddle-talk
to listen: up that steep ledge it calls us,
to the level of the next lake
where we'll stretch our tents on their poles
and tie our hammocks
to rest a day while the canoes sleep, upturned
on a granite shoulder

Some night years from now a star will fall
reflected in that lost lake
and wherever we are we'll remember how
the song of falling water called us
one step higher in its long pilgrimage
downhill