The Rapids

The rubber raft bounces through the rapids.
My knees 
                         squeeze 
               the side of the boat 
               that I ride like a saddle
as we slip down in a trough 
                                                       and then rocket up 
and over, like a roller coaster.  
I’m on the New River in West Virginia.  
I heard a claim that these were the only 
               class V rapids 
               east of the Mississippi, 
though I think there are others.  
It’s like most claims, 
               felt to be more valid if an 
                         only or best or highest or fastest.            
Yes, I’m sure there are others, 
               but not in this moment as I 
                         squeeze 
                         and paddle 
               and adjust my weight
                         in split seconds,   
Feet behind me then 
                                                  pushed forward,
               like bull-riding a river.

When the river calms, I think about the rapids and the claim and the Mississippi.  
I’ve been on her, too, though it was a much gentler ride.  
What she lacks in excitement, she makes up for in size.  
You can’t move consumer goods through the New River Gorge, so there’s that.  
Sure, the Mississippi floods, sometimes in tragic ways, but the flood 
is still the producer of some of the best farmland in the world, bar none. 

At a    w i d e     s p o t, 
our guide tells us we can get out and
                         float.  
We can even climb 
               out of the river 
                              and up that 
                                             big rock, 
                                                            15 feet high 
                                                                           at least, 
and jump from there.  
               It’s safe.  
I roll 
               off the edge and onto my back,
               my life jacket keeping me afloat.  
I lazily push 
                              and kick my
                                                            way to the bank.  
As I step on solid ground, 
I feel 
               woozy
For a moment, 
unaccustomed to firmness.  
I stand still as I get my bearings, 
and I think about how the Mississippi 
               and the New 
               are more different 
               when you’re in them 
than when you’re out.  
               The bank feels the same
               in West Virginia
               and Missouri.  

               And then I think about 
               the observer self, 
               the untouched
               unmoved 
          watcher of experience 
               who sees both the rapids
               and the flood 
               but stands still 
               on the shore,
               unchanged,
               unaffected.  

Then I 
               climb 
                              the 
                                             rock 
and jump back in. 

© 2020 Deb Moore,  All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.