For Steve Kirchen

Raymond Ziemer

They think you cannot lose your way

just floating downstream with the current,

but we know how channels

split and weave and

slow sometimes to steaming backwaters

thick with duckweed.

So mired in sluggish oxbows of indecision

I remember all the times

you paddled through.

From blue-spring deeps

your memory will lift me out

and carry me for one mile more,

replenish me for one more hopeful after.

As a paddle slips below

sculling smoothly with the flow,

liquid as a dream,

your voice will whisper

riffles in the river

when I hesitate to draw.

Your kindly spirit will come to me

with cries of conscience

chirping on the verges of my soul.

And I count on you to

always keep me honest with the earth.