Rocky Shores

by Owen Gustafson

Rocky shores, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls,
full moon paddles and islands alone,
Boundary Waters you are my throne.

Great wilderness of untold stories,
nature is proof of your glory.

Still calm waters I could walk across,
birch tree forests full of grace,
pine tree towers you do make.

Your far off places call my name.

Water turns over with the seasons,
with moss and rock your majesty is hidden,
streams and lakes you are all living.

Storms pass by as if they’re ghosts,
you are isolated but never alone,
moose are seen but disappear,
otter’s chatter catch your ear.

Sun sets of fiery orange,
burnt remains upon the shores,
portage trails of devious route,
dangerous footing up and down.

Campfires seen in the sky,
are stars above during night,
wolves howl their approval.

Blueberry bushes full of food,
bears do eat, but I do too.

Giant boulders in the woods,
whose surfaces reflect the sun.

Glaciers made you, carved by ice
timeless landscape that I hike,
eagles silently survey the scene,
ravens call to clear your mind.

Purified waters they do lap,
on bays, and inlets, and beaver dams
the sun is my compass, as well as my guide,
 tree root snarls show passage of time.

While I’m here I’ll drink your water,
generous of you to offer.

If it rains I accept my fate,
weather just is. Nothing more to explain.

Canoe carried on my shoulders,
carries me in turn. Loon cries can be heard.

Port and starboard I control,
deciding what direction we should go,
no proof I’ve been here
if I’ve done things right,
I am forgotten once out of sight.

This place is not my home,
but I carry it in my heart,
for Nature is most perfect
when left alone.

Published with permission, Part of the Series: What Wilderness Means to Me, Illustrations by Kari Finkler

What does wilderness mean to you?

This poem was generously shared by a reader – and we want to know, what does the northwoods canoe country wilderness mean to you? Send us your thoughts, an essay, a poem, a photograph, to Quetico Superior Wilderness News and we may publish it here or share on our social media pages. Thank you! Email the editor >

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