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42

Forty-Two
 
This morning,
on the anniversary of my birth,
I awoke to more than a million mayflies
completely covering the exterior walls of our paddle wheel boat.
 
A full flotilla,
a fleet of eight steamboats
line the Mississippi’s shore in Dubuque, Iowa.
 
Thousand’s of people
are all milling about in this emergent light.
 
We are all here to celebrate the gifts of this eternally winding river of life.
 
More than symbols,
fertility is everywhere:
An eagle’s nest,
painted turtles on a log,
beaver’s mounds
and coal fired electrical plants,
moldering towns
recently revived,
others still decaying,
snowy white egrets
stalking frogs
in the backwater sloughs,
and a fleet of white pelicans
splashing and flapping
to frighten a school of minnows
towards the shore
before all ten pelicans
open their gullets in unison
to swallow a belly full of fish.
 
After a full-belly lunch,
the passengers sing
happy birthday
with the Dixieland Band,
as the boat churns up the river
I want to relish this moment.
My wish:
this river and I
never began and never end.