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.