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Spring/Summer 2006, Volume 22.3

Poetry

Linda CooperPhoto of Linda Cooper.


Linda Cooper lives in Stehekin, Washington, where she is a park ranger. She completed her MFA at Eastern Washington University. Her essays and poems have been published (or will be published) in Third Coast, Elixir, Diner, Redactions, and Concho River Review. She was a finalist in University of Oregon's Northwest Perspectives and Out There Monthly essay contests.

 

Perspective

Two boys arrived yesterday with a pebble they said was the head of a dog until I pointed out it was really a typewriter.
          —Pablo Picasso

1.
The North Fork scuttles
downstream with white-tipped
claws. You look down

upon it each day, eyeing
eddies for movement.
Does the crowd

gathering on the opposite
shore hope to one day soar
as you have?

And do you, perched in a treetop
nest, new mother to four
clacking eaglets,

wait for the crowd's departure?

 

2.
Spawning salmon slip
up the bed, stones mute and pale
in the red shadow.

3.
You once loved him
with an energy
found only in the wild.

Where did he go, the man
who once sang you to sleep
with birdcalls? The one who paddled

across the Nooksack to
fetch you, when your loneliness
grew wings and nearly flew

beyond return?
You married him,
and bit by bit, one man faded
and another—this balding research
scientist—took his place.
Through binoculars, you watch

the eagles and wait for
something to happen.

4.
Grey pebbles, brown stones
lie still on the river floor.
Above, sky wanders.

5.
The world is nearly still
when water
and wind, a partnership

of voices, urge
this moment out of sleep.

The first to respond: fingertips
of cedars and firs.

The red Kokanee never
stops swimming against

the pull of current, oblivious

to stone and claw and boot, seeing
nothing but the grim path ahead.

 

Teachings On The Banks of The Lochsa

November 10, 2002

The river gave them up grey. Under a slice
in the ice sheet, cold water flowed.
The teacher's hand slipped down—not yet
numbed—and picked them
like blossoms. When he placed one in each
student's hand, they grew
and changed colors. They exhaled.

November 29, 2002

Her palm traced the wall of the monument
following familiar topography
along curves and cracks.
She cupped one sandstone breast
staking her claim—a settlement
along the trail
of the New West.

November 29, 2002

Her brother cried when
she released his polliwogs
into Blue Lake. Her mother
said, What in the hell
is wrong with you? Must you
ruin every vacation?
Her father
only shook his head.

As she kneeled at land's edge,
away from her family, she saw fish,
identical slices of silver, schooling
wildly beneath the eddy's calm surface.

December 31, 2002

At the bank's edge, he cries
for what is lost: wife of 43 years to cancer,
mother to Alzheimer's,
car keys to gravity
through a crack in the ice.
He left home at 64,
following a broken white line
toward these numbing waters.
Through the thin ice shelf, he sees
the river's lament repeated
and a hint of light rising
from hard, grey stones.

 

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