The Ode of the Oars

coast line of Nice

6 February 2016

‘On fine mornings my oars
take on the shades
of blue that are the sea:
cerulean, purple,
aquamarine, green,
cobalt, violet,
the azure of dusk,
lavender.  I row

from Nice, along the coast,
row from the glittering city
tourists, mostly.
I once rowed Smollett,
crusty old bloke.
And I row small provisions
on a delivery basis.

It is how I make my living,
and keeps me out
in all this beauty.
I can get away
with calling it beauty,
because I don’t row when
the sea grows angry.

I do not toy with Poseidon.
I know what he is capable of.
Ask Laocoon.  Speaking of which,
I rowed a fine looking man,
and his fine looking sons,
not long ago, to Cannes.
The eye painted on my bow
kept the god at bay,
or at least appeased him.

The bay I row we call
the Bay of Angels, so beautiful
it could entice angels from heaven;
or the shades back from the Blessed Isles
where grow souls in their Elysian Fields,
fields watered by Eternity.

But I began by telling
how my oars take on
the shades of the sea in these
mornings, magnificent,
in these mornings dazzle-danced with light,
when the sun whispers poetry
across the blue-glass water
that breaks in tears against the rock-
wracked shores, love poems,
sun-whispered to the rough
rugged shore, love poems,
over my oars, over my oars.

I row.  I row
the sun to shore,
through the violet sea,
through the sea, brushed azure.
I land the tender sun upon
the rough, rugged shore,
and watch them shape into ode.’

Philip Kuepper
(30 January 2016)

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