Oxbow and Mill River

Eddy, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 20x16

Eddy, oil on canvas, 20×16

OXBOW AND MILL RIVER

Mill River, Hatfield, Massachusetts, January. (Jonathan A. Wright photo)

Mill River, Hatfield, Massachusetts, January. (Jonathan A. Wright photo)

OUR FIRST visit was a five-minute walk from my home to an elephantine tree along the Mill River in late January. Jonathan wandered from time to time, always keeping the tree in sight, jotting down lines and taking photographs. I sat on a snow-covered log sketching for 20 minutes before giving it up and standing along the riverbank.

Mill River — Winter Visit

Five weeks past the solstice,

a birthing sun,

so ready, gray, alert,

has a blue, wandering

heat to spare.

Wind falls back away —

stilled branches sway.

 

Stream, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 16x20

Stream, oil on canvas, 16×20

A tree of three,

center trunk then

three again and free —

all the way to sky.

It holds the bank

with a weathered

muscle grip,

bending down,

on hands and knees.

 

Root and river fresh cut

at the water’s edge —

fallen wood to dark,

gravel into sand,

into soil. Whose mark,

whose land?

 

Trees mark their years

in circles. I see them

when I cut them.

Stone drop in black water

ripples out, folds back in.

Wood, sky, friend,

water, kin.

— Jonathan A. Wright

***

I STAND still as a heron for 55 minutes looking east and south at the Oxbow from a cement bridge abutment at the edge of the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton in this cool, pre-dawn hour before deciding I should at least take a peek at the other side.

Oxbow First Light

Connecticut River Oxbow, Northampton, Massachusetts (Jonathan A. Wright photo)

Connecticut River Oxbow, Northampton, Massachusetts (Jonathan A. Wright photo)

Highway traffic — bright

truck running lights

across the water —

what was it like

when waking birds

and a beaver’s tail

were all we had?

 

Mountainside in early light,

before the green shows through

is soft bear fur and dim.

Night is coming out

of hibernation; its stone body

watches the valley.

 

Blue dawn over

ocean of sky —

red-trimmed calm.

Every hollow in the land

a hand full of water.

Ripples spread

into fingers of swamp —

fish feed in the dark palm.

One jumps just now —

the shadows shake.

— Jonathan A. Wright

Oxbow 1, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 30x24

Oxbow 1, oil on canvas, 30×24

Oxbow 2, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 30x24

Oxbow 2, oil on canvas, 30×24

Text and images are among 24 new oil and acrylic paintings in the exhibit, “Changing Perspectives” at the Westhampton Public Library, Westhampton, Massachusetts, for the month of June.

The Westhampton library is at One North Road. Hours are Monday and Thursday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“A Paletteable Feast!” at Hope and Olive Restaurant, 44 Hope St., Greenfield, features more than 20 other new paintings. It will remain on view through August.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

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