The Intrepid Rower

The Mystic River. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.
The Mystic River. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

16 February 2016

Just now the marsh
rattles dry and tan
in winter wind.
Trees clack like bones.
Crows caw down the morning.

My boots click pavement.
I am out for my walk
in the stunned-frozen
town.  At heart
this is how
Mystic should be
taken in, savored,

the rattle, clack,
caw, click of the hour
just after first light,
when slivers of ice shiver
one against the other
on the river.  No boats toot.
Not even nothing moves.
The Seaport hangs like a painting
on the gallery wall of the sky.

A truck hung with ladders clatters across
the bridge as I cross.
At the post office, I flick letters to mail
into their appropriate slots.
I walk south to Seaport Marine
among yachts brought out
of the river until spring.

Back along the boat sheds
sun glances blindingly off
the corrugated roofs.
I reach River Park
where gulls stand decoys
atop pilings until,
suddenly!, they take flight.
How really fake they looked!
I adjust my take on reality.

A rower?!  Surely not!,
in so cold a morning,
the slivers of ice shivering
off his oars, an intrepid agent
in the deep throat of the season.

I pull the collar of my jacket
closer round my throat.
Caw, again, the crows.
Rattles the marsh.
And the clack of the bone trees
do their skeleton dance
when comes the wind,
placing its cold hand
against my cheek.

Philip Kuepper
(30 January 2016)

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