We carry our canoes, sacred text, dry shoes.
Our guide wears a sun hat, hidden pockets. She shepherds
eight campers teetering on the precipice
of becoming. In the morning with our sleep eyes
we smack our girl tongues. Each day
the river, kingfishers, flat paddles ruddering.
We move downriver a ripple at a time,
putting up our dome tents at dusk in a circle of sorts,
poking sticks in the hallelujah campfire.
Our guide understands the miracle
of photosynthesis, sunlight converted to plant energy.
She contemplates for five full minutes
the whorl of a fern. Even the sun buzzes,
waiting to portage. We eat green — tea of pine needles,
dandelion salad. Our guide teaches us how to live
inside the earth’s sheer sleeve. I carry my vessel
from water to water. On the starriest of nights,
we camp at the river’s edge, listening to the waves,
crackle of fire, whip-poor-wills calling
shore to shore. We all need transformation,
she tells us, even the birds.
By Tori Grant Welhouse
Tori Grant Welhouse’s poems have appeared most recently in The Write Launch, Into the Void and Crab Creek Review. She published two chapbooks, Canned with Finishing Line Press (2014) and Stashed: A Primer in Lunch Poems (2019). She won Skyrocket Press’s 2019 novel-writing contest for her YA fantasy The Fergus and Etchings 2020 poetry chapbook competition for Vaginas Need Air. She is an active volunteer with Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and lives in Green Bay.