Rafting the Truckee


Set upon blue pontoons 
that twitched like dousing rods
we went spinning down 
over deep pools where the river slows
marshy fescue and clotted eelgrass along the banks
water clear over silted boulders 
and waterlogged pines
went spinning past guys 
stomach-flopped on inner tubes
past fishermen knee-deep casting into pools
rods pulling red lures against the green
past ducks scurrying toward us begging 
diving for thrown wafers 

we slid over brown gravel 
where water ran swifter in narrow runnels
into the little thrill of white water 
gasps in the rapids
nudging rocks and swirling around them
not quite making the angle we aimed for 
hitting all the obstacles 
rocks   low bridges   brushy 
margins with their hidden sticks
bumping over the scrape 
and crunch of the shallows 

we wanted the center
but the rudderless tube would not hold it 
and toward the end 
when the wind came up 
our forward strokes did nothing
we spun lazily or furiously 
until the river caught us in its line–- 

even in the last long rapid
pulling hard for the takeout
what carried us 
was relentless 
clear water moving 
all the way down

Alicia Hokanson.jpg

Alicia Hokanson’s first collection of poems, Mapping the Distance, was selected by Carolyn Kizer for a King County Arts Commission publication prize. Two chapbooks from Brooding Heron Pressare Insistent in the Skin and Phosphorous. She was named the River of Words Poetry Teacher of the Year in 2003. Now retired after a long career teaching English, she devotes her time to writing, tutoring, and political activism in Seattle and on Waldron Island, Washington.