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This poem is taken from PN Review 155, Volume 30 Number 3, January - February 2004.

The River Drivers Matthew Hollis

DRIVE n. & Vb. bringing a harvest of lumber or pulpwood from the forest down a spring-swollen river to the mill. Men work the drive; the logs are driven; the man who works the drive is a river-driver.
                                                John Gould, Maine Lingo

I can hear the haul coming out of the forest
on frozen sleds for the landing grounds,
canting the cold wood into the boom
waiting for the winter's crack.
                                     Spring,
                                              just,
the river still shouldering ice,
and already we're beginning the drive
to bring this lumber in.
                             From here to the mill,
we will walk the water
on a cargo of pulpwood and timber
with only a pikepole and the caulks on our boots to balance,
rounding, rolling the forest on -
birlers, shepherds of the river.
                                    To know her.
Where her currents beat swiftly,
...


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