My Mistress Oswegatchie: A Poem for an Adirondack River
My Mistress Oswegatchie
I call to you mistress Oswegatchie
with pebbles at your window,
return to waters long neglected
drifted apart from obligation.
impatiently waiting to
live in ecstatic harmony.
Overhanging boughs welcome
back to your embrace
back to the mystery.
I paddle deep into your source
The yellow blade sinks
into your ebony waters
as I slide the shaft beneath
your beautiful riffles
and glide around the ample curves
of your course.
A journey ends without farewell
like lovers reluctant to part,
of your tempting waters.
On the Oswegatchie
The Oswegatchie River stretches 137-miles through the Adirondack Park to the St Lawrence River. The river is famous for its serpentine winding, cool black waters, and numerous but beautiful obstacles. Though people like famed guide book author Paul Jamieson have mused heavily on the etymology in the naming of the river, it is difficult to establish a meaning. I personally like the supposed Onondaga translation as "black river."
I first canoed on the Oswegatchie River fifteen-years ago and have done my best to explore its waters as often as I can: perhaps too often. Between my paddling and hiking trips it's been joked that I was having an affair with the Adirondacks. I guess that the love affair with this river is the inspiration for this poem. This poem explores a canoeists relationship to the river using the language of sensuality to express the longings of romantic obsession.
By far, my favorite experience on the river was my 2010 paddle to the Oswegatchie headwaters from the Bog River Flow. It was a memorable three day 37-mile journey from Lows Lower Dam to the take out at Inlet. Sure, to the unenamored the bugs, the beaver dams and the three-mile canoe carry would seem like hell, but to me it was an adventure of the heart.
- Oswegatchie River – Upstate Oasis | Canoe & Kayak Magazine
By Alan Belford Taken from the October 2005 issue Perhaps Oswegatchie means “black river,” as Onondaga tradition claims. Or perhaps it means “coming or going around a hill.” Or maybe, as my friend suggested, it’s the trash talk you dish out to mosqui
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