On a warm and breezy March day,
I biked my way along the levee trail,
thankful for sunshine and the easy shift
of multiple gears to help compensate
for the sixty-plus years and a strong head wind.
Just west of Ark City and south of the bridge,
I eased my bike down the ridge
and across the trail of dried dozer tracks,
follow the path back toward the edge
of the Arkansas river.
As soon as narrow tires hit the sand
I shift to walking and have to use
both hands to push the bike through
the loose grit to get over to the river’s edge.
I lean it against the soft dirt ledge.
I stand for a moment,
see the sun glinting the ripples
that push back against the current.
A couple of thin shallow streams
and a hundred yards of deep sand
stand between me and the main channel.
I grin to myself
and shuck off my shoes and socks,
brace myself for the sting of cold water
and begin to walk.
The water is not as frigid as I expected
and I cross the wide strip of sand,
socks and shoes still in hand,
careful of broken glass
and sharp rocks.
The sun plays in my mind,
stronger than the current of the river,
and I soon find myself
peeling off my shirt
and wading in.
With the water rising up to my thighs,
I wade against the push and pull,
moving upstream for a while.
I turn and launch myself into the flow.
Absent any search for meaning,
I am a child again.
I will rise later from these clear waters,
thinking of sons and daughters
and wishing all were here
to share this unexpected fun
on the first Sunday afternoon of spring.
Drying myself with my shirt,
I feel the strength of cleansing sun,
the sting of wind-driven sand
and the blessing of God’s own hand
on a Sabbath day afternoon.