Anne McCrary Sullivan survives and thrives in an unplanned winter’s night out, in her poem, “How to Spend the Night in a Canoe, Coldest Night of the Year.” Her poem appears in Deep Wild 2021.
“When a steady north wind has blown the water from around your boat,
left you surrounded by thick mud, deep enough to swallow you whole,
when you have taken the shock of a rising tide that stopped short,
turned away acknowledge the inevitable. Get to work.
Remove everything that has served its purpose—empty canisters,
empty jugs; set them on mud. Spread tarps, mats, sleeping bags
in the bottom of the canoe. Put on all the clothes you can. Use the rest
to insulate sides of the boat. Lie down in the nest you have made,
pull over you the folded tent. Wait.
Soon the moon you have watched grow larger each night, nearly full now,
floats with Orion, balances over the wooden paddle planted in mud.
Trace with your eyes the dark shapes of unnamed mangrove islands.
Listen for the dolphin’s blow in the channel you can’t quite get to.
Feel how your face grows colder your body warmer. This
is wilderness. It holds you, pins you at the center of the universe,
suspends you in the essential. Time has nothing to do with clocks. Tides
defy their charts. Watch the slow arcs of passage stars and moon.
Feel yourself warm free breathing. Know how lucky you are.”
Deep Wild Journal is the home for creative work inspired by journeys to places where there are no roads. To read more stories about wild places, order your copy at deepwildjournal.com. Our Holiday Sale is happening now! We are still open for submissions for our 2022 issue until January 1st.