Thoughts on an Oar

22 October 2017

The nervousness of the surface
of the water betrayed
the tremor that had happened
a thousand miles away,
a tremor that had passed
through the bodies
of every living thing beneath the surface.

The lip of the river trembled,
and bit at the shore.
Seaweed recoiled.
An oar, old,
its blade split,
lay desolate,
back from the biting
lip of the river.

It lay there
like a thing dismembered
from the body to which it had
belonged.  A rowboat?  A skiff?
What had brought it to accident?
What points of what compass
had gone awry, and caused
body and mass to collide?
What hand had
last grip on
the oar?

A pigeon-toed grackle
took note of it,
pecked at the muck
round the split blade.
Shells, emptied of their succulence,
lay tumbled open along the handle.
A mess of grass lay flat and wet
just shy of where the grackle pecked.

I concluded nothing
about the oar,
and how it had come to land
where it lay.  A tremor
of some kind?  Each of us is
the result of one tremor,
or other, wherever
we land.

Philip Kuepper
(6 March 2017)

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