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Near Thing in Chitwan

We tourists are beguiled to think
our safety is assured because our guide
is native Nepalese, he hires the dug-out,
the paddlers bow and stern, sits with us
in mild discomfort, a brief excursion
on the Rapti river.

Borne on the current, more rapid than
the placid surface would appear, we see
ahead, a tree limb snagged, up-ended,
break the surging water, a self-designed
beacon to the unwary, to steer away.

As though mesmerized, our fragile craft
sucked unguided sweeps toward its fate,
the spear aimed to pierce the vessel,
toss us helpless, flailing in the stream.

All aware, impending disaster pressing,
eyes frozen on the stump, gunwales gripped
in fright, we scrape the splintered snag
sliding by. Breathless whistles of relief.

The paddlers, inept, offer no apologies
the guide, immune to our apprehension
resumes his cheerful chatter as we debark
cheated of an unadvertised adventure.

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