I am watching otter, how he
Plays in the water, how he
Displays brae underside to the
Wave-washings, how he
Breathes in descent trailing sudden
Strings of pears that tell
Almost, but never quite, where he is
Apt to rise-how he is
Gone, gone, so long I despair of him, then he
Trims, wetly, up the far shore and if he
Looks back he is surely
Laughing. I too have taken
Myself into this
Summer lake, where the leaves of the trees
Almost touch, where peace comes
In the generosity of water, and I have
Reached out into the loveliness and I have
Floated on my flat back to think out
A poem or two, not by any means fluid but,
Dear God, as you have made me, my only quickness.
Have I spoken of the Ichetucknee River here? If I repeat myself, then I do so, for I suspect that swimming in water is my only quickness. Or perhaps that is where my quickness, my talent, my gifts, my reason for living floats up out of my subconscious with any clarity. So I am drawn to speak of this river so that on land I may know that healing flow.
Every summer I go to the Ichetucknee. I pray that its waters will be clear of pollutant fed algae so that I may see beauty not just above the water, but below where fish flash, invertebrates sparkle, and river grass undulates like caressing healing hands as I swim over the top of this field of green. Such clarity has not been the river’s gift for the last couple of years, so murky have human desires changed this river. But in early September, I took a swim along the entire length – a 2 hour swim that when finished I knew what I was about.
In the middle of the swim we came upon a family of otters. Meredith, my spouse, held up behind me, in love. He’d never seen river otters before and here he was with his nose at their level, and only a few yards away. Well, I don’t know if he was in love, I never asked. But I was. How can one not be when I see otters snacking away on mussels, a husband grinning, and a river of wonder flowing in me, around me, through me, and between me and others, and otters.
What is your quickness?