For Dr. Rob Unsworth

when the hand-hewn riverboat
leaves, and the fly fisherman who
built her, water knows, mourns

in gathering ripples of what once was.
Perhaps the sky feels it too, vacant
of flight. Weighted clouds hover over

the scene bleak as a field left fallow.
Even the absent vessel’s wake folds
and refolds over itself as it considers

what’s lost, never to come again.
Certainly Mallard, Moorhen, and otter
recognize the scent of absence,

as well as steelhead, bluegill,
redfin shiner, even Muskie taste
empty’s bitter flavor, likewise

wheatgrass, wildrye, willow moss,
duckweed sense the missing. Surely
dragonfly, backskimmers, wood frog,

and spring peepers must perceive it, too.
No doubt trees shudder to their roots
along the banks. Fungus, fanwort,

lichen, and microbes pulse underwater
to the harmony of grief. The landscape’s
heaviness melts into might-have-beens

into the ether, ashen and grey. A certain
kind of beauty in the unknowing
of a thing, river breath rising into mist.