Looking both inward and outward, Kenny Fries reminds us of how beauty “elevates our lives beyond mere description.”
The Canoe Ride
We are trying to find the waterfall
—all afternoon, along the edges
of the lake, the high-pitched calls
of loons. (Imprecise directions.) We
pass through the canal—shallow, silent.
You explore the gnarled forms of trees,
submerged, and when we almost hit a rock—
you say, trust me. I sit on the bottom
of the canoe, you bring the paddle in and
balance, each hand holding to a side, your
body over mine, you kiss me. The clouds
move fast through the sky. A gunshot
echoes. You tie us up and on a grassy
knoll strewn with leaves, we make
love until the wind blows too cold. It’s
getting late, we must go home, but I want
to see the waterfall. Do you hear it
Suddenly, a heron, the palest blue—looking
prehistoric—begins its awkward flight.
I see your eyes when you see it—whitecapped
water—now I can see it, too—the narrow
pathway down through the rocks. We
drift. The water’s pulse takes us
where it takes us. So, this is how it is
when you finally reach your destination.
But it isn’t over yet—(isn’t over still)—
as we make our way home, the setting
sun on the water behind you—oh, how it
dazzles—And later, alone, I wonder
how such detail, each sense triggering the next,
elevates our lives beyond mere description.
How many times will I return, like that lone
heron—(a widower I’m told)—to that cove and
see the waterfall as first I saw it—by looking
at your eyes. Before I sleep, I remember your
confession before we passed through that first
canal: I forgot how much there is beneath
the water we can’t see, you said. And I see
the now dark water—how it moves beneath my bed.
Originally published in Desert Walking: Poems (The Advocado Press, 2000)
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