Thursday, 23 of October of 2014

Chuck Brushwood – Methow River

One

We awoke, tumbling out of sleep the way
a fawn might tumble out of a snow drift
and we began to speak of waters.
I remembered the great horned owl
just across the river,
hearing it the previous night
and nights before.
The bear we saw crossing the river,
running scared through the vine maples
after detecting our human scent.
The way the bear utilized
the spindly skeleton boughs for refuge
and the way I might use them to fashion
a structure or a fire.
I left the river that day,
and I’ve not returned since.

Two

The day we saw salmon spawning,
finishing their anadramous journey.
They were as long as my arm,
their dorsal fins protruded above the water’s surface.
Having come through the locks at Portland
and the ladders at Bonneville, Umatilla Rapids,
Rocky Reach and Grand Coulee,
we watched these two Chinooks swim the last mile of a thousand.
A stick I threw into the river once,
remembering how I thought of its own travels to the ocean,
thinking that it, like me but unlike the salmon
would not return.

Three

The day we cooked a stone killed grouse
over a small, smokeless fire.
The time I spent a feverish and frightening
fourth day of fast,
lying and listening to the water’s salubrious sounds.
the evening we all spent planning our sweat lodge,
speaking of food, equality and biology.
Nights we jumped naked into the river after sweating
amidst sage smoke, yarrow tea and other naked, sweating bodies.
We spoke of all our days by the Methow,
and dreamed of staying there forever.

Chuck Brushwood
Sept. 1996 Earth First!


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