Poetry: Circular Time on the Anacostia River by Christopher Lancette

Circular Time on the Anacostia River

Raindrops pelting woods and water,
I step inside a shelter of primordial stone --
passing through circular time,
and landing in 1000 BC,
when …
I sit next to a Native man waiting out the storm,
with a fire, to keep him warm.
He pays this hiker no mind as he bides his time,
sharpening his blades,
one eye on the clouds,
the other toward food that may pass by.
Turkey, rabbit, squirrel.
Deer, ducks and woodchucks.
We share a glimpse of a great blue heron --
the only moment
that’s truly ours together –
because the bird was, is and always will be.
We watch him edge out on a limb,
yellow eyes locked on the stream below,
hoping to feast on a smallmouth bass
or even a bluntnose minnow --
his stomach as empty as the one next to me.
I study the man who surveys the land,
his face locked in concentration.
What do his eyes most yearn to find?
Does he know the end is coming,
that his people were and are –
but will not always be?
The rain dances on by and I depart
our metamorphic motel,
my belly full with a store-bought snack –
but hungry still.
A nod more like a bow aimed at him,
I acknowledge he was here first --
in this cave and on this land --
but pangs bang my ribs,
because I can do nothing more
to help his people live.

Christopher Lancette is a Silver Spring, Maryland-based freelance writer focusing on nature and the environment. Over the course of his career, he has worked as a journalist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications including Salon, BiographyEntrepreneurFine Books & Collections, and The Washington Independent Review of Books. He has a journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Follow him on X @chrislancette.