Rowing Early Late in the Season

22 November 2020

By Philip Kuepper

(For Michael)

The whole of the marsh lay a vast
taper lit, when first light
touched its flame to it,
a tray of votive light
lit to keep alive
the memories of the loved.

Though early, already, seagulls
flew, lazily, low over the lit field.
They appeared licks of flame
having detached themselves from the light,
flames having taken on form.

A thin scrim of frost furred the water.
Cold had come in in the night.
It shivered against the shore.
I saw the breath of one gull
fur the air.  I saw an early rower
take the measure of conditions.
He stood against giving in to fall.
In two hours time the water
would be rower ready.
In two hours time, the gulls rowed with him.

An egret appeared, as if by magic,
and appeared unreal, so still did it stand,
a live sculpture in the museum of the morning,
the rower like an animated film
backdropping the egret.  Both were sleek.
In fact, sleek described the scene:
The flame-lit marsh; the flight
of the gulls; the slick of frost
that had laid on the water.
The moment was fat with promise.

The rower had set
in motion the morning,
had rowed the morning out
into the bay, where it began
to spread wide, wider,
until morning lay over the entirety,
like an open hand
offering welcome.

(18 October 2020)

One comment

  1. Once again, thank you, Philip, for a wonderful, evocative poem. I always enjoy them.

    I hope you are staying well. News from the US is so dire.


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