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Richard VanWagner

Ocalee the Seminole dipped his paddle
soft into a tangle of dark water slow.
The sure current sifting his wake
between kneed cypress that poked holes
in the blue mirrored breath above.
There, below sky pressed leaf and bark
he’s traveled long against time’s flow,
until finally drawing his paddle to lap
to drift free with all those before him.
A tanned ripple smoothing to still water
as quieted memories drip to disappear
into the brackish pull of progress and past.
One — by one — to One.

Ocalee means “still water” in Muscogee (Seminole) and is what you would say if you had been wading through lots of water and came on lots more water — “Still Water.” This became Ocala, the town in Central Florida.