Jeanne Gordner

River Float – 1950

Three Children and I on inflated mattresses
…….drifted Toutle River’s snowmelt water
…….eddied quietly to a narrow gorge where

the river narrowed between rocky cliffs
dropped steeply…… surged
white water roiling and spinning
…… past boulders and downed trees.

Toutle’s steep descent tossed us
airborne into whirlpools…… under water and
above again ….in confined passage
between cliffs and reaching driftwood.

water’s roar and echo
. overwhelming our screams, hurled us
……over deep holes…… under tree limbs
………………………. like homing fish.

…….Half a mile downstream the canyon
…….opened and Toutle quieted to the percussion of
…….water against stony beach.

We waded ashore
…. heard nests of song in alder and aspen
.. . felt sun’s heat.

Elated with our venture
we trudged the road back to camp and
abandoned ourselves again and again
…… to river’s icy race and swirl,
………. its fluid passage between rock and rock. Until

too weary to tramp the road again
we sat and watched water patterns
interlace and elongate westward
watched as sun slid behind trees
its last light dancing in the river.

 

 

(In 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted, filling the gorge with muck and trees)

 

Jeanne Gordner grew up in Longview Washington, then enrolled in Reed College, majoring in Political Science.  Lloyd Reynolds introduced her to modern poetry, and she has been writing ever since. Eventually she became a teacher and taught for several years in Yakima, and then substituted in Oak Harbor schools when her family moved to Whidbey Island.  She returned to Olympia and was one of the original members of Olympia Poetry Network, which has enriched her writing life in many ways. Currently she lives in a retirement community and participates in a writing class. She has published three chapbooks.  


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