Canoeing Down The Plover River

The water tower used to state:
“Plover—love is in our name.”
Today, on this same-named river,
another summer short on rain,
forced to portage over rocky shallows,
around fallen birches and oaks,
and under overhanging brush,
we struggle to maneuver the turns.
Our paddling echoes in the woods
and turtles plunge from their trunk beds.
Not long ago, this trickle of a stream
ran deep, no hidden sand bars,
no worn willows blocking the way,
no horse flies biting through shirts—
an easy glide through rustic scenes.
But we must lift and grunt our vessel
over obstacles we can’t handle.
We fear the test around each bend.
When the canoe catches on gravel,
we become beached. And re-learn
the word found in this river’s name.

—Philip Venzke, Stevens Point, WI