For Julia with the bear claw on her shoulder

It was back in ’96 and I was nursing a beer on a slow, dark Wednesday night in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar when she walked in and saddled up beside me. She told me that she had been outside on the river all day, and was exhausted from the effort. I mentioned that I had never rafted, and asked questions — probably too many. We talked easily in the dim light, trading adventures until closing time. Finally we stood up together and walked to the door, each ready to go our own way.

“Are you coming?” she asked.

* * * * *

I woke up at twilight. I watched you sleeping soundly, your shoulder uncovered in the early-morning light. I pulled the covers over your shoulder and opened the curtains so that when you woke up you would have an unobstructed view beyond the window and the sunlight streaming through.

I thought of you as I rode along the river in the early-morning mountain dawn. I’m remembering you again today.

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