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First, he landed on a towel,

Then a table, then the inside

of the black bimini.

A lost soul,

Untethered of trees,

And grass, and flowers,

Trying to measure

His new safe place,

A break from the big, blue nothing

He’d somehow made

His way across—

To us.

I know enough about spirits, I said,

To think this might be—


as fragile as a butterfly’s wings,

As frail as its wings beating,

Fighting, against the current

of a wind made stronger

Over the swelling crests

Of the Columbia River.

Where, in his journey,

Did he go so wrong,

That he wandered so far,

between safe shores,

I thought,

as the boat rocked,

Water slapping gently

Against the hollow pontoons.

Many times, the butterfly

Flew from the boat,

Only to return overwhelmed

By the vastness of the river—

The river, an ocean—

The river, the world—

The river, the end of our universe.

The insurmountable river.