Rite of Passage
by Lenora Rain-Lee Good

Raucous birds wheel in the sky
black against the dawning colors
of skybluepinks and yellows
reflected on the flat, barely
moving water–almost mirror
perfect. Ripples from the canoe
Grandfather made for family,
flattened, even as the old man,
his son, his grandson pulled
it up onto the sandy beach before
walking to the cabin
their breakfast and lunch picnic
in a large basket
carried by the boy so strong.

Coming to the beach as a family
happens every summer, but the first
trip, to get the cabin ready for the
women, is always the men of the family.
This year grandfather, father, and son. A
tradition born of love. A time to
bond and ready the cabin so when
the women folk and giggly girls
arrive to clean it, they
will not be met with spiders
or mud daubers nesting in a corner
or cupboards or snakes in the stove.

When the men folk (the boy is now
included, after all he carried the basket
and this is his first time to be invited
to such an important function)
finish with their job, they sing their way
to the river, bits of raw bacon tied
to one end of the lines of string
and teach the boy, the new man, how
to hold the crawdads and not get pinched.
The new man will fall asleep as they
head for home. In a year or two, his
younger brother will come.
Then he will carry the basket.


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