I have seen my secret river from afar
While standing on a mountaintop
Watching the wind raise shimmering wavelets on its blue breast
Like the iridescent scales on the flanks of a silver salmon.
But when I climb down from the lofty peak
The sheer cliffs turn me against my will to the other side
Where I enter the forest far from the river's course
And lose my way in the dark and lonely thickets.
Somewhere there's a faded trail
Where alder and yellow birch reach up on either side to join their slender fingers overhead
Swaying in the saffron breeze of spring
Down a long leafy hall
Where shafts of sunlight pierce the arching canopy
Chasing each other on the path that leads to the headwaters of my secret river.
I know that when I find the long-forgotten carry
And follow it to the sunlit meadow
I will stand at last upon the clover shore of my secret river.
My boat and my pole will be waiting for me
Nestled in the bank reeds
Beside a smooth stepping stone
Where I will climb in and begin my journey.
Rapids may lie in wait
Around the next turn
But I will match their frenzied dance, step upon step, twist after drop
Down to the calm pool
Where I will linger to watch the dark fishes dart from rock to rock in the dappled depths
For this is my secret river
And I will follow it to its end.
The blue sky of summer is flecked with clouds of autumn
And gold and scarlet leaves ghost in the green crowns of the ridge's spine.
Will I find the way to my secret river
Before the meadow lies hushed under the first thin blanket of winter's snow?
Nanook of the Nashwaak
Reach out and touch a rock
The tales are there
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