I ride the chute and swim
out into the dark panes of cold,
then climb the glacial stairs to lie on hot granite,
the same slabs on which my young father
screwed his girlfriends sixty-something years ago.
The locals call it “Tenderfoot,”
one of the deep pools, miles upstream;
you rarely see a stranger there.
The lure and the dare is a steep sluice
of water through bedrock—
thirty feet in too-late-to-stop-mind
then a shock of froth that flips
you backwards once or twice
before it lets you go. There’s a rare blue
iridescence in the rocks, labradorite
which goes gray when dry,
but underwater is a trove of jewels.
How easily mind swims into silence:
a faraway floor of stones wavering in sun,
clouds of bubbles spilled by falls,
no sign of human life. No words.
Chase Twichell is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Dog Language (Copper Canyon, 2005). Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems is forthcoming from the same press in 2010. (6/2009)