Broken Boat


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