Journal of Writing & Environment



Do you have to carry everything on your back?

And what do you sleep on? asks my sister on our Sunday call,

as I remember she’s not a camper conversant

with backpack gear and trimming ounces, layering

Thermax pads between yourself and ground—she’s at home

on the blazing sand of the crowded Atlantic seaboard,

with a swimmer’s fast crawl in the cold salt pull

of crest and trough, just as I know how to brace

my paddle in the bellies of whitecaps in afternoon wind

as I cross Crane Lake, then portage my gear, canoe,

and food to Loon Lake’s campsite, hauling all that I’ll need

for four days’ stay—I stretch the nylon skin

of tent between me and the red-squirrel’s world.

My sister has only an umbrella’s pool of shade

and shuttered eyes to divide her from the wilds

of sunbathers stretched to the edge of the civilized world.