Today's poem is by David Wagoner

The Birth and Death of an Island in a River

In a season of low water
behind the uneven shelter
          of a fir tree snagged
          and stranded by itself
against three head-sized stones,
the island began. The seeds
          of willows sprouted
          half in the current and lasted
through the first winter
while over them loomed,
          through ice, through rain,
          like the skeleton of a moon,
a grove of foot-high saplings
that survived its first two winters
          as a pale-green coven,
          and through following springs
an island spread behind them
with rice grass and spike rush
          holding to sand. Dune primrose
          and sand dock searched through pebbles,
clung there, and after another
winter and more springs
          and still more summers,
          the killdeers came to nest
among the small, dry stones
and fledged their young,
          and fingerling salmon in pools
          survived till the spring floods,
then took themselves to sea
and grew and remembered
          where they'd first tasted this water
          and again and again,
but small islands in rivers
all move slowly downstream
          and are born and born and reborn
          and know how to disappear
for a while, then reappear
like all our informal gardens.

Copyright © 2010 David Wagoner All rights reserved
from The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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