The river feels tight and bony. Rocks skim the surface, popping out of dark water to scrape against the hull. I’m in and out of the boat, pulling it over shallow stretches and up rapids. Water soaks my clothes from the waist down as I stumble across boulders hidden below the surface. I long for big water.
I paddle for a hundred yards, maybe two, before I’m forced to walk again. I feel like an engine sputtering and unable to start. There’s no rhythm here. The water is too shallow. I see it in the lines of mud and debris painted on rocks and trees along the bank. It’s low, all tight, cramped, and closed in.
I know it will only tighten. The St. Louis is big compared to the East Savanna and beyond that the water disappears into swamps and bogs.
I feel like I can’t quite breathe when I think about it, like there isn’t enough space, like I’m suffocating. I miss looking out and staring at an endless lake. I miss water to the horizon. I miss feeling like I could paddle forever.