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Here's a poem by my old college friend Dennis Evans. He and I fly-fished and camped across Canada from Montreal to Victoria Island, British Columbia after graduating from Yale.
It has always struck a chord with me (no pun intended), especially at times like these. Dennis spent his high school summers with his dad, a forest ranger, in Oregon's Cascade mountain ranges. How I envied that.
Night Fire by the River
Whoever has swung an axe
and endured the layers of skin
blistering and shredding away from his palms
knows that there are many skins
beneath our skin,
each not quite ready to be what we firmly insist.
Whoever has soapbox ankles
and a swollen throat
from standing and shouting to change men's ideas
ignores the deterring discovery,
sleeping near the river
of other natures at the raw threshold of the human.
Whoever feels the flames
from a raging pine campfire
drawing the air from the very bottom of his lungs
knows the pounding veins
below his ears
herald the gill slits of another life creeping open.
In verdurous canyons of fir,
empty of the old sun,
we begin nosing our way up the dark river of sleep