The long canoe


For Kristopher

There was room for only two in the long canoe,
but that was fine. All we needed was each other.
I sat in the stern of the boat and rowed.
You sat in the bow and kept our balance.

You stayed as still as the birds in the branches
watching us go by. There was no motor
to distract us from the bright sky overhead.
We had no clocks to slow us down.

We glided along, and the day unfolded
at its own pace. When we were hungry,
we ate our lunch on the shaded riverbank,
and you felt the river flowing through your toes.

We went where the current runs quick, sliding
under trees that had stood at the same bend
in the moving water for over a hundred years.
We had to duck beneath their hanging leaves.

Some people take a day like that, flatten it out
into a photograph and keep it safe between the pages
of a book. I took a piece of that sky and a length of
that river and keep them deep inside me.

When I’m tired of the city’s loud demands,
I sometimes find that day again and the river
that still glitters like the scales of a fish.
I see you sitting calmly and intently

And watch the silent water gliding by.
And then I wonder: do you see it, too?

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