NOTE: Always a reader, I began writing poems and little stories as a child. Then twenty five years as a high school English teacher intensified my love of words and our shared stories. My poetry is often about nature and our role in the natural world.
The only ribbons around which we dance today
are streams of rain from roof lines that target our feet.
On shiny, splashed sidewalks we dash from door to door,
lift umbrella arms over our heads, and swing and swerve
away from puddles. Inside we shake as dogs, flicking off
the showers of April that refuse to relent.
Even the daffodils bow down under the weight of water,
despite their bold yellow flounces, skirts of gold,
demure in a May Day mist.
Captain Joe—or so they call him down at the pub—
knows it’s his long, white beard that children
stare at, gape-mouthed, long after Christmas
is over, wondering could it really be?
But at 80, Joe has let go of the joy he once
found in such ponderings. He now seeks peace in
solitude, the easy oneness with water. This serene
spring morning he pilots his boat along the shoreline,
towing a bright blue rowboat, a delivery
to a woman who lives up river
in a small, red house.
The woman simply likes to row, she has told him,
up and down the river, shade or sun, sometimes
out into the harbor on calmer days. Later, from
her memory, she will write about birds
and the color of water.
He guides the rowboat near her dock where she
waits. He watches her secure the boat—bow and
stern—with swift and perfect cleat hitches.
Job done, he waves to her and thinks with a sigh:
Now this is the kind of woman I would have married,
if that day had ever come.
But—No regrets. He’s too old to regret anything,
especially today as he navigates the river’s passage
back to open water where south winds have freshened.
Nothing he cannot handle. He thinks with a deep, inner
pride of the many white caps and black squalls his
Lady of the Lake has survived.
She has weathered with time, like he has. But today
they reach through April’s cats paws as if they were
new off the launch.
The Color of Water
My father had a cabin on a root beer lake,
water colored by tannins from pine forests
of the Mesabi Range in far-north Minnesota.
Bloom Lake was only a hiccup in the ice-age
scrape that left deeper, wider sand-lined lakes,
fished first by the Ojibwe and Fond du Lac,
later by my grandparents and parents, lakes
named Winnibigoshish and Kabetogama,
vast and blue under clear cobalt skies.
Today is a slate blue day yearning for the sun,
and I am far from Minnesota memories, years
removed from iron ore lakes and spike-pine
forests, walleye and black bear and our little
muck-bottomed lake, filled with
the sediment of history.
I walk the shore of this water now, and despite
the clouds, the sky is clear and bright. It is
the color of water that lights the morning,
Lake Michigan glazed celadon, pale jade.
Its white-crested waves roll to shore in
ancient cadence, language of all water.
© 2019 Dawn Hogue
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