Water birthing


We camp at Snake River,
ice crusted on the Tetons,
canoe, peak of our tent.
Fire out, we wait, in darkness,
newly together, for the thaw,

you hoping I make it come --
I believing your heat
provides necessary melt.
It's a ways, winding, to the end.
At dusk, I call you my moist savior,

worship at your knees,
beg you to bend, absolve me.
All night you try.
We are both half right --
only predicted a beginning,

canoe dropped in swift current
swirling along, hopeful journey
down to Jackson Lake,
Buhl, Ontario,
Clarkston, Pasco, the sea.


We wake to spring snow
heavy as Wyoming saloon dancers,
wet like fresh pain. I stand behind you,
wrap arms like morning glory
around your shoulders, your breasts,

red blanket draping us
against the cold. Rainbow rise groggy
for flies, jays glide gray sky,
take long drinks from the Snake
deep enough for water birthing,

squawk for bread, salvation --
life for their young. We are safe,
together, canoe upright,
old lovers cleansed from mind.
Snow changes to rain, soaks us,

helps bring a new day. We wait,
you pressed back against me,
our shadow moving to moss,
to the river, in mist. Still,
behind you, I drink in all this.

Timothy Pilgrim