Susan Smith Nash
“Don’t canoe out to the middle,”
and I can’t resist –
despite the thunder over the mountain,
sky blueberry dark, raindrops like small green frogs
plopping on lilypads and my mother
pulling in the ice chests and gear,
preparing for the impending storm.
Lilypads grew only in the middle,
rainbow trout tranquil, darting in and out of vines
ripples picking up when the wind
comes down from the top of spruces,
and if I could canoe into the very middle,
I’d see white waxy flowers
petals as pure and thick as a voice
I’d waited my entire life to hear.
My mother told me the waters were shallow here,
but the water is dark, like the infinite night
where I sleepwalk my life away,
wishing for connection
when I know all the while, not is possible.
My brother and I had long given up
digging up freshwater clams –
the shells were too hard to pry open
the anticipated pearls never there.
And if we found one (like wisdom),
what would we do with it?
Would we have any idea?
My canoe is metal.
The lightning is electric.
The water is cold, like all Augusts in Vermont;
tombstones in abandoned cemeteries the same color
as my eyes. I can’t resist, and even if I could
where would I go next time?
My mother stacks the ice chests, thermos,
fishing gear next to the deck,
spreads a clear plastic tarp.