smile as grim as winter splits
his face as tension forces bones
to pull with muscles' urgent strength
and keep the fragile craft upright.
The water's murmur rises more
as he approaches canyon's door.
Now spume is seen in rainbow's orb
afloat from river's awesome drop,
and eddies try to rip the boat
from course of straight and true.
His paddle digs to stay the tide
as river's chasm beckons wide.
With no escape he rushes on
in cataract's magnetic grip,
as ever faster water boils
and hurtles to the edge.
An oath is caught on gasping breath
approaching seeming certain death.
missile dropping through the falls
to smash into the waiting pool
and live, to cheat this river's hold
to float upon the day.
So once again he drifts on home,
to dream at night of rapids' foam.