A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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When I was young, years ago, canoeing on the green
Green River, with my young first husband,
I wriggled out of my shorts, eased over the lip
of our little boat, and became eel-woman,
naked and glistening, borne along in the current.
He paddled, I floated and spun,
and let the ripples take me.
Even an hour of that kind of freedom
can last for years and years,
can become a touchstone you return to
long after the rented canoe has been returned,
and the road trip has ended, and then the marriage,
and then the husband’s brief life, and you yourself
have become someone else entirely; still
you return in your mind to the days
you could set up a tent in the dark,
and build a small fire
from birch bark and newspaper
and sit beside it, sipping tea, savoring your muscles’ sweet ache,
as one by one the uncountable stars came out.