A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Richard R. Powell


The Healing Plane

From June to September the fairway of Brewster Lake is vigorous with color and noise, the glint of glass and anodized aluminium, the low moan of inboards, the high squeal of children, and the dust and rumble of logging trucks on the surrounding mains. Wood smoke and barbeque smoke drift from campsites. The scent of deodorant and suntan lotion wafts off the beaches. Boisterous young people splash plastic oars and propel inflatable dinghies from sandy beaches to the lake’s meridian and back. Power boaters in bikinis and t-shirts drink beer and scatter cans in the bays and bights. Middle aged men and women guide boys and girls in flotillas of canoes. Fly fishermen row pontoon boats and stare at nervous water.

Later, after October rainstorms sluice leaves into furrows on the sand bars of Blackwater Creek, an individual paddler appears and puts out alone across the Brewster reaches to steal down a stony cove. Dressed in muted tones of brown and green he glides beside sedges. For him gravelled rustic boat launches front more than party places, fishing holes, and training grounds. Beyond the glassy port he finds a surface to open his city stung lungs in cedar air.

This solitary pilgrim under a windless sky — plies the healing plane.

He marks the margins and seeks the shoulders of the season, sneaks his hull past frost-touched beaches and runs his double blade like a wieldy prop across the watery bell to find in wavy hemlock and undulating pine the longed for gratification after all those months of delay. In bulrush flats and bony abandoned beaches are deep pattern wells. His parched eyes seek a fluid balance.

After paddling for an hour he stops and lets the canoe coast. In his wake a quality trails as fragile as silence. A holy blur of soundless calm that spreads out, thins, like ending music, the last soft notes, a mist evaporating in the heat of attention. It leaves behind a slender stillness cupped like feathers against a Pintail’s breast.

on each reed
a nymph exoskeleton —
cracked open to the sky

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