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Canoeing on the Loxahatchee

ISSUE:  Winter 1984
Mullet flick and, leaping, swim the air.
My paddle’s slap sends turtles deep for the safe, murky feel.
I pull the river by, its silence a reptile’s stare

while the sky’s a great egret—all talon, glare.
An osprey breaks its glide and dives to seize a lump that
Mullet flick and, leaping, swim the air.

Trapper Nelson came to get away, making the last, wide bend
 his lair.
He lumbered slash pine, crab and deer his meals.
I pull the river by; the quiet stares back a lidless stare.
He couldn’t keep the gawkers out, his wild nature too rare
even then. He fought rattlers and wrestled ‘gators for a fee,
giving in. Mullet don’t leap this far up, the water free of salt
 and clear.

The county shut his show: sanitary code and a starved, mangy
So Trapper cut the river off with logs, fired on all
comers. I pull the river by and dock; something blinks below
 and stares.

When he didn’t come for mail, it seemed queer.
They went in and found him picked clean by his chick quails.
The river pulls me back. Mullet sail ecstatic, light as air.
What I came to see jitters the surface, scaly, impassive,


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