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I suppose even the cottonmouths would find 
the river placid. Still the current moves 
slowly across the skin below the surface.

You never think you'll turn over till a bend 
turns abruptly over boulders, chums and boils 
with ashen water, tumbling lodged logs

and making maneuvers urgent and narrow. 
Even as you go under and grab for your 
paddle, trying to keep your head upstream,

from the perspective of a turkey vulture 
there's always a shoal of sand below rapids 
to catch the canoe or to lie on naked

below the transparent vast blue sky, above 
which are spun, unseen, primordial clouds.