The Mad Kayaker Hears the River Flood

His boat sits dusty beneath the house
but the mad kayaker wakes to hear knocking
like a sailboat against the racks.
The water has risen overnight and taken the backyard,
the oak trees, the gravel he carefully spread
for walks to the river. There is nothing
he knows to do but paddle, so he crawls
into the boat’s narrow cockpit, snaps on the skirt,
and floats into the monster flood.
He leaves his wife behind, even his two
sons still snug in their beds.
They too know the ways of water
but he will let them find their own
path toward the river’s roiling heart.
This morning he must go alone
into this acre of falling water
where a small rippling stream used
to meander through their suburb.
He keeps his craft tracking true
as he finds a line through down trees,
surging pressure waves, and washed-out bends.
Sand is his dance partner as he floats to the sea.
He passes over the old banks and the mouths
of feeder streams. He watches backyards
become flood plain and flood plain fill
from ridge-to-ridge. He tries his old roll
in the current and finds it waiting
to twirl him back to the surface.
He catches the only eddy on the river’s
clogged hurtle toward the sea and stops there–
He watches as the world turned liquid in the storm
passes by. He moves back out into the flow.

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