Like a lover’s first caress
Leaving kisses wet
And bright as diamonds
On the grasses
As they blush
And the earth turns dark
And spills its tears
Into the bristling lakes
And we have drifted from
And the wind
It comes to finger
All that was done
In the Wet
When it became
rampaging through the trees-
The beefy fig of fifty years
The crackled pine four stories high,
The cypress bowing to the ground,
Could not be spared
The rage and
One by one they fell
All pointing west
And laid out
On the ground,
Now tangled with new vines,
And new growth.
The wind is gentle as it combs
The beards of Spanish Moss
And plays with vines
And seems to laugh
Above the streams
That are rising at the feet
Of survivors standing straight
Or split in two
Or leaning on a neighbor
Or stripped of every limb.
“Ah,” sighs the wind,
As the forest bends away from her,
“It is not I that you should fear,
I only take the weakest, and
The rest will live again
And find new ways
But the water,
That is to come,
Takes it all.”
Canoes and Alligators
Oars held high we march towards the launching place-
Canoes are waiting at an indent of the mangrove-braided river-
My daughter walking fast ahead of me, as usual,
As she always does-
I bounce along her wake.
I think we look like sacrificial lambs, or goats,
Parading with our stakes, the spits on which we’ll roast.
Canoeing – new adventure, she and I,
Innocents aboard a tipsy-silver-metal-crescent-hollowed
Sliver of a boat.
My daughter takes the bow – I take up the rear – she the motor
And the force; and I am left to steer.
We zigzag up the river –green and dark and winding slowly
With the currents shifting at a whim it seems.
Oar to the right, turn left?
Oar to the left, turn right?
She turns around to me, the question sharp as blades,
“Do you know what you are doing?”
“Of course I do,” I say, because I am the mom. This is my job.
To know what I am doing. To always do what’s best. To know exactly what that is.
Her job as my daughter is to question that.
So she is not convinced.
I watch her head so sweetly shaped dip in rhythm to her stroke,
Her brown silk hair caught in a breeze,
Long and strong her arms are softly blushed with pink.
An egret fans white feathers, watching as we ride the bumps of tide;
Trying to stay off the tangled shore of roots, of hollows dark with shade
And then it happens.
Two eyes appear above the water, preceded by a nose, a paddle’s length away.
I catch a glow of eyeball, a moment of intelligence,
And ripples spread in tiny V’s; the alligator moves.
“Mom! What do we do?”
I squeeze my bottom to the seat, a plank too narrow for an elf,
And plunge the oar out to the right (steer left?) and say,
“We’ll be all right, sweetheart,
Just keep on and do not stop!
We row until the dock. Which is to our left