On What Remains

There is something that always remains
that held this dry boat
through a long hot season,
hauling sweetwater from deep taproot—
gorging the supple mane.
I chase your crazy dance
of one leaf falling—
its final defiant uplifting
before settling, yielding
to the slow current
of the gentle river.

The wind, blowing in from Great Meadows,
is traced in a rippling, catching
the brittle cupping
of your curled topsides,
powering you before the gale,
leaving a wake
that Slocum would be proud of.

I jump at the chance to fall
into familiar language:
‘You’ll never grasp the wind’—
raw feed of sailors—
though you can know what it does:
hold it, spill it,
sometimes just hunker down,
leaving it still
as immutable as desire.

Today it is a simple broad reach
to the Merrimac—but be careful:
the current is wicked at the breakwater;
and there’s no bottom that will hold
around Isle of Shoals.’

It is hard sometimes
to have to always love the wind.

Do you know how much I love you?
It is as sensible to me as an acorn.

I am the man constantly risking absurdity
chasing you along the banks,
shouting practicalities
and heedful warnings.
Perhaps it could as well be a recipe
for a simple bouillabaisse.

Water is dear to me and I don’t know why—
another traitorous element
that carries you away.
(You see, I need to think it is just
as equally beyond your control.)

I chart a fear within you
that I would swamp you
with one clumsy step;
that we’d be spilled
like burdened fisherman
from a Gloucester dory,
thrashing about in brackish water,
forgetting how well we know
how to swim.

Though I have succeeded well
in the ways of blinding oneself
I am still as expectant
as the starkened oak
waiting out the carrying
of another seasons young.

After it all,
when you are some leagues away,
I’ll sit on the banks,
and with the messiness of a child
I’ll fashion the silty clay
into a strange and sympathetic audience;
and I’ll speak to them
in a surprisingly real and honest voice,
and tell them the story
of how the wind and water
conspired to take you away—
and how
in the wake of everything
the river recovers itself.

Everything always does.

Though something always remains.

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