Susan Smith Nash



Dont canoe out to the middle,

and I cant 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,

Id see white waxy flowers

petals as pure and thick as a voice

Id 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 cant 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.