At midnight we canoe the bayou
in a yellow shell, a daffodil
curling for dark. I’m only now
beginning to know this man,
his beard and nails’ blunt
manicure. He tells me the red
eyes of alligators sweep cypress
knees bald, how the animal
leaps vertically if provoked.
He asks for his harmonica. I lean
over, steady myself on the frame.
His notes lap the hyacinth,
burrow in the brown mud.
He remembers the animals come
for marshmallows. Why didn’t I bring
a bag? Why am I always forgetting?
Months ago, he told a waitress
to lower her voice—
its timbre hurt his ears. She laughed,
thought it a joke. Now we knock
our wooden oars. Up front,
under tupelo, he points
to scarlet breaks in the shadows,
rips a mallow flower
from a bush, crepes it
across the water’s copper finish.