Seven years ago they exchanged vows where salty ocean muddles river, river addles ocean. The black magnetic sand lures from all ends of the earth, as it did for one girl with skin the color of seashells. After twenty years of coursing eddies south through lush and concrete jungles, “the end is called back to the beginning,” – shukalxs uxs’.
She returns to the muddled river’s mouth, to the son of a son of a fisherman. Is it a salty river or a freshwater ocean where the two pool their resources down by the inlet? Contention froths the edges like beer foam or lips on a thirsty toddler. The eagles come to the river mouth on a nice day and perch on driftwood lodged in muddy river bottom, sticks poking out pointy-side up from the river like periscopes. A lone seal swims upstream fishing for salmon, lets the current carry him back down to the tidewater, and repeats. The salty river provides. In the mud, one would be forgiven for mistaking webs of dried algae for molted salmon skin. There is plenty of space out here for everyone.
Lupine leaves the shape of windmills clutch gleaming dewdrops like diamonds in their casings, proffering love and loyalty like he did seven years ago. Lupine and iris mark the beginning of June in purple and blue. Come July, wild strawberries and fireweed roll out the red carpet in crimson and fuchsia.
Thousands of vertical feet above on alpine peaks, black knobs resemble chess pieces (his favorite game). Valleys of snow nestled between crags resemble the ovoid shapes on Chilkat blankets and Tlingit dugout canoes. “Paddling is easy when we all paddle together,” a master carver told her yesterday. “It’s when we paddle out of sync that it’s hard.”
Approaching the river, footsteps soften and silence in the dewy air, as if the water’s negative ions erase all sound. Shhhhhhhhhhh, the river says. Yet despite it all, children call out, their voice carried downstream and thrown back to them by the mountains.
At the river’s mouth, where ocean muddles river, river addles ocean, where the end calls back the beginning, the sweet river and salty sea try to make their peace.