“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage”
— Lao Tzu, Taoist Philospher
Late light on the river shows us where the beaver lifts his dark face from darker water, willow leaves in his lips, willow limbs stripped and bare as bones at our feet.
At the end of the day, we feel the ending. Two kingfishers rattle in the firs and fall silent; a single, yellow alder leaf spins downstream, sinking into dusk.
I look into your eyes and see they are not pebbles. The river moves in them— both fixed and flowing, they are alive in this moment, two blue flowers caught in the river’s wind.
The beaver drifts toward us, just forehead and wet eyes glinting on the surface, so that in the dimness he could be nothing more than water folding in on itself.
A coolness lifts and the sky bruises purple, a dozen bats suddenly above us, licking into the night. All we want is here, now. I lean into your left arm, each of us holding on as long as we can.
Special thanks to Toyon, a literary journal of Humboldt State University, for publishing this poem in its 2010 issue, Volume 56. I reprint it here in celebration of my 18th wedding anniversary, along with an even more special thank you to my husband, Terry, for our 18+ years exploring the world together.