Canoe Song

by Mark Caskie

for Patricia

Without a paddle stroke, the wind
drives me up lake, miraculously
between the shoals of reeds.
I would wish you here
to see the black-crested kingfisher
drop out of the sky to rise
with a minnow, shiny and flapping,
in its dagger beak, or
perhaps, more to your liking,
the mother mallard, her incredible
brood of twelve ducklings, incredibly
lining up for inspection.
I could go on—
there is the blue heron,
who imagines himself invisible
behind his cloak of reeds,
his long, crooked neck,
sticking a good, two feet higher.
of course, you’ve seen all of these things.
Together, we’ve remarked on
the bird-like Arum plants, the fleshy,
yellow pistil of the lilies.
Back at the cabin, you’re sketching
a lily in watercolors, worrying
over the brilliant inner secret
of this flower, which no
paint seems to match.
I hope you’re drinking a cup
of coffee, playing some jazz­—
Charlie Parker always did make
for a looser painting style.
As for me, I’ve drifted
as far as the river, while I’ve
been writing this poem, and have
come to rest in the intense green
reeds that gather at its mouth.

MARK CASKIE earned his MFA at UNC Greensboro. He has recently published poems in Flying South and has forthcoming poetry in the Connecticut River Poetry Review.