Born in a full summer, in a scorching tin shed
Amuzz with mosquitoes
A darkened orifice in density of nettles
At Three Mile Bush
With copper nails, pine and beech and oak
Each of its parts a honed shape and home.
Hands of a third generation spent their last efforts
On that boat. The boat was a singing reed, a bird
Flying, its 27 feet length, 3 foot width
And freeboard of one inch,
Singing its way up river in my undeft, inelegantly learning hands.
The river, an Amazon of green depth….
Gone, the world of people, cars, hedges,
Only the shaggy myriad forms of seething willows
A new genetic quirk in every river turn.
Ash punctuated and frothed with meadow sweet
Pinked with rosebay willow herb.
Skidding the meniscus of the ripple surfaced gleaming stream:
Bursting bubbles rising from soundless trout.
Away from the High Bank pocked with kingfisher burrows
Betrayed by specks of whited guano streaks .
In the green tunnel, the long green room
Away this river took me.
I saw, looking back, my house like a doll’s house across the fields
The river and the garden,
Expecting to see myself cross the space behind the lighted windows
That person who I didn’t know at all and didn’t want to be.
The boat learned from me, I from it.
I lowered myself wobbling in this craft
When the regatta races came,
Running like the wind,
Demanding first turn around the buoy, then home.
Requiring, peremptory, the Women’s Cup.
But mostly alone, in front of me a skidding duck
Behind, the black nose and floating ears of my dog
Until she veered away, and ran along the bank
To wait for me at home.
It had been five years blue, one year grey
A golden rim along its top
Small seams that let in water, caulked with
Putty, paint and sealers, rubbed, repainted.
Never named, but known on all the rivers.
After a long winter laid up in the garden came
Builders – they lifted up the boat and tossed
It down, and broke its back.
And so I hold on to the remnants: the stem and stern of my boat:
Two rounded nubs of beech wood, talismanic, sculpted, pierced with nails.
The boat, floating in my memory’s river, as I’m floating in my life
In flooded river, sometimes drowning, and sometimes swimming in full spring tide.
Enhedduanna 24 September 2014