An Excuse to Row


17 April 2016

A red-orange sun set
beyond the winter woods,
shredding its light
on the bare branches,
shredded light hanging there
in the after-light,
until it slowly faded off the branches.

Then the tomb of night devoured
all seen things: The excuse of a cove
to the north of the woods;
the meadow, west, summers saw
a wild profusion of bachelor
buttons and buttercups;
east, the lake that fed the excuse
of a cove; south, where swallows,
summers, harrowed the dusk,
feasting on unsuspecting insects.

Over the winter meadow the shredded
sun set, appearing to tear itself
on the trees. Over the memories
of summers of flowers, set the shredded
sun, light, summers the harrowing swallows
thread the air with their flight,
as they feasted on the unsuspecting host.

But this, remember, is winter
calling summer to my mind,
summer when the sun
does not tear itself on the trees,
but lights them, green-glowing,
each leaf a tiny lamp,
that glimmers when a breeze
blows off the excuse of a cove,
the cove’s reason, after all, for being.

But it is winter.
The sun bleeds
on the trees and the half-
frozen cove. And comes
deep in the night a coyote
howling at the snow moon,
his tracks a readable text
on the tract of earth.

All this moves what is
that much closer to dawn,
that much closer to spring,
when I will hear the first shouts
of the rowers as they slap their shells
against the skin of the cove,
out for an excuse to row.

Philip Kuepper
(24 March 2016)

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