Strange vibrations, east of coal country.
Black sky, dusted by filmy cirro-nebula.
Rumbling on a trestle, high above the Green,
train whistles legend’s high, lonesome sound.
Highest water in a decade, but river’s
calmed tonight, lapping in a little cove.
Noses streaked with sunblock, bodies
with Skin-so-Soft, hair silted with residue
of a day on the water, we’re children
on the verge of adolescence, adults on the verge
of longing. Our black-white- &-yellow tent
is pitched near the night light of the women’s room.
Beneath the cottonwood, Coke machine’s a shining totem
€”Liquid logos, little pockets of thirst, pulsing under glass.
Sipping Squirt in the dark, I see her yellow
hair €”the world’s last child entering nubility.
She turns briefly; we exchange greetings. Neck
straight, eyes resolute, she moves into the night.
Next evening, safe at home, convex
glass of TV screen brings news
of two old men who earlier that day
had accidentally turned their motorboat downstream.
Confused by rapids in a canyon
they call Cataract, their craft capsized.
Past the confluence of the Colorado with the Green, they died.
To read more of Paul’s verse, go here, here, and here.
To read the National Park Service incident report of this accident, go here.