Edited by Dava Sobel

The Squamscott River
    grew lazy in early summer—
muskrat rose and dove
    heron swept the air and landed
and hemlocks that had survived
    another century's practice
of harvesting their bark
    were thriving. Some suffered
beaver girdles and the predation
    by woolly adelgids but still
the pileated woodpeckers
    found what they required
in the snags. This is how it was
    for us—pulling threads of hope
out of the air as if we had
    the skill to weave them
back into webs. We surprised
    ourselves when it worked—
so much needed to be undone.
    And I promise you that
as paltry as our efforts
    may seem to you—no.
I won't justify our failures.
    The story of the alewives'
return—that's what I wanted
    you to know because it helps
to think of desires that last
    for centuries without being
satisfied. How far inland
    did the alewives come,
I wondered, the dam removed
    after three hundred years
and in the first year then
    they came in a rush.
Locals could hear the gulls
    gathered in the estuary
in their joy and the alewives
    swam and swam to the reaches
of their ancestors—eleven miles
    and three hundred years
of appetite for place
    their genes remembered
and knew how to find.
    The Abenaki offered
a welcome back ceremony.
    And fishers gathered—human
cat and bird to feast
    and the memory that had been
thwarted for centuries
    became a fertile flow.