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For Karsten by Ed Kameénui

A week ago, the young son of my

good friend from Minnesota

died in a car crash

in the deep crease of night

when fly fishing the corners

of the McKenzie is less safe.

The son, like father, a quiet warrior—

muscular, deferential, loyal,

gentle. In battle, like father, fierce,

quick footed and piercing.

Today, there’s a hole in the McKenzie

where the sweet water drains

listlessly but purposefully.

Those who are wise to rivers

know the peculiar sound

that comes from under the

hole—a gloomy rhythmic

resentful silence that pulls

anyone and anything near it

—off center.

Old timers who fly fish the McKenzie

claim witness to slicks of grief that

pass as dark shadows on its surface

with no enduring trace in daylight.

River poets argue that rivers cleanse

and bind all in mind and matter.

In sleep, the same water source

that stirs the resentful silence of the McKenzie,

heals all—one small and uncompromised

droplet at a time.

My warrior friend from Minnesota does not fly fish,

but he waits for the sullen McKenzie

to wash and purify his bruised and aching hands,

without notice or retreat.

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Poem For Karsten by Ed Kame'enui

Poem For Karsten by Ed Kame'enui

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