Young men fit for battle,
too young for war but paddled
with swagger down the Skeena.
A week on the water, lakes and rivers,
bodies of water that take if you giver,
but this one this day promised what it delivered.
A vortex, canoes lined up to paddle hard,
as the hole in the middle would drag a canoe,
to the depths, to the depths, without release.
One canoe and wait then another then one more,
three were through, number four went round
and round the eddy they held steady as five went
past, then they, four escaped the mighty swirl without
Six was with the whirl, they paddled hard as
they were drawn near the rocks and cliff,
a broken paddle, and they limped away, clear
of the gulf.
Seven went and were hell bent, to get through,
all experienced paddlers too, what success,
number eight held four of us, weighted low down
with only three paddlers too, round we went and
then again, nine passed us and cleared the danger,
seven came back to encourage and be near...
What happened was what they feared the whirlpool
dragged us closer, we weren't dizzy, but tired of
rounding the same bend, breaking waves but not enough,
tiring out as we were pulled in again, round and in again.
We needed to split the curve cut the outside wave
and across the break, near the rocks and in the wake
of the river wash and the base of the cliff,
we had to all paddle hard and when and if
we broke free we would join our brothers guilt free,
if we did not
we would have
been a story on
a page of some
deaths to drowning
while at a cadet camp.
the boat's bow broke the waves one two and three,
missed the rocks, the cliff, almost free, voices raised,
an angry fight to live and have done battle with no loss,
we were finally free three companions and me, tossed
by the fourth wave, and I looked back into the hole
of the maelstrom, I looked back lesson learned,
passion for life, a must you have to yearn
for life otherwise, for love, point your bow,
dig your paddle in
and look back no more.
There is more rough water ahead.
Whirlpool was a surprise to our leaders too, they told us after, it was an 8 foot vortex and the whole thing was 40 feet across...I can still see some of the fearful expressions on the other 16 year old faces.