The blades of the oars caught the last
of the day’s light
as the rowers carried them upright
from the river to the boathouse.
South, a curlew called
over the rushes,
to darken the river,
as the spring evening
faded into summer.
The river was still now.
The rowers had read it well,
read the river with their oars,
like blind persons a text with their fingers.
But now the river lay like a book
open to the page where the readers had stopped.
A brushing sound began to rise
like a vesper whispered in the quiet,
as though swans were brushing
past the rushes, brushing past
the rushes in softly spoken prayer.
There were no swans to see.
What brushed the air I could not say,
though a vesper from the lips
of one observant is how it sounded.
From the lips of dusk
the curlew called all attend
the last of the day’s departure.
Then a breeze explained
it was the dusk-brushed rushes
that vespered the air.
I watched them gently sway,
from side to side,
like a choir sways in song.
How the rhythm wove the whole of the e’en,
as though to read the river
where the rowers had left off,
as though to vesper day toward night
to allow the stars their light.
And then beyond the rushes I saw
pale forms whiten the dusk,
a pair of swans fading away into the cove
where they would pass the night,
their bodies aglow with the moon’s vanilla light.
(3 April 2016)
Editor’s note: With the last day of April, Poetry Month ends for this year. I would like to remind you readers who like Philip’s rowing poem about his book A Sea To Row By – Poems, which was published earlier this year. Read more about it here.