Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Chris Dombrowski lives in Missoula, Montana, where he works as a river guide and teaches writing. His most recent book of poems is Earth Again.
My friend says that a life properly lived is like a river. I take this to mean that headlong shots through roaring box canyons are inevitable, along with meandering, wandering main channels and high, roiling waters. There will be drought-drained shallows in which trout languish; winter, when the dark water is a spill of ink down the page of snow; and eddies, too, the hypnotic, elliptical movement of water running back on itself, around and around.
What’s befuddling is that I can’t figure out whether our days are passing at warp speed or at a geologic pace. If I could gain some distance on them, they would probably resemble a large Western river in runoff: so brimming at the banks that the casual observer might think the water is moving leisurely over stones, but soon a cottonwood trunk or fence post comes hurtling past, and the current’s true velocity becomes evident.
I had anchored my boat on an inside bend of the snowmelt-fed Rock Creek. Whoever christened that body of water a “creek” had clearly never attempted to cross it in June, when the burly current threatens to unfoot the knee-deep wader.