Innocent Passage

Along a narrow trail through the meadow
eleven of us convoy behind the naturalist
with his binoculars and sextant and field guide to
seas of alpine flora that ebb
toward a horizon of peaks.

He dispenses the taxonomy of the living world
as a kind of jurisprudence —
the law of the sea after Linnaeus —
rendering our habitation of the world a kind of trade,
the sea-lanes of minds that name and name
in the name of exploration
that turns plunder in the end.

The trail leads upward through the alpine
via little boardwalks across bogs
toward wind and cloud and rocky
zones of the minimally living,
but I fall behind the others
ready to give up such pre-destined navigation,
and sit it out on a rock to watch
the season’s fading vegetation
do nothing,
listen to seedpods of lupin ripen,
wait for the first faint flurries of snow.

Begin to learn the patience needed
till the bears’ return, the day
they launch themselves, hungry
and untamed, onto the pathless flood
of a new spring’s tide.

—George Sipos


About the author: George Sipos is a poet from Salt Spring Island. Two collections of his work are in print, both from Goose Lane Editions: Anything But the Moon (2005) and The Glassblowers (2010).