Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lower Coos River

by Richard Hartwell

The river meanders towards Coos Bay
in almost bayou-like curves and twists,
sinuous as ribbon candy, but deadly:
old hulks, grounded and rotting, on
ox-bow bars; mooring piles driven
into the mud, barely identify the
river’s current course in the fog.

At night even intermittent lights,
reds and greens, can’t mark the
channel in the blanketing fog,
ricocheting glows confusing:
you’d be aground before they
came into view, all except for
old-timers, noting the widening
vees of river current on each pile,
as the patterns of geese change,
more adept than local guardsmen.

Farther down, the river gains
depth and breadth, becomes
madam to upstream whores,
welcoming inbound, as lumber
freighters crowd the GP and
Weyerhaeuser docks, and tugs
churn up such wakes that low-
lying islands are constantly
swamped, scattering shore
birds out over the broad
expanse under the bridge,
over the bar, and out to sea;
as salt tears mix with sweat.

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