River Songs

Windless night
My baby rows toward Norris dam, electric
lights along its top reflected in the lake.
Each yellow globe has a long straight tail,
identical rockets blasting up in formation.
Nearby a wild moon rises above the ridge,
its bonfire paints black looking-glass of water
with tongues of flame dancing in our wake.

Honeysuckle, rampant on the bank, sends out
clouds of sweet fierce scent, somersaults me
back forty years to lie in a hedge with sisters
plucking blossoms, sucking tiny flutes
full of nectar, while Mom calls girls,
get out of those weeds! from a window.

Wet smack of oars pulls me forward,
to a shore of silt-covered stones. He asks
for a kiss good-bye, doesn’t see his word
strike my throat, shadow the moon, hear
hush fall, air thicken, or know
years and years from now,
I will touch my tongue to honeysuckle
and taste his mouth instead.

Last Friday, St. John River
Afterward we sat on top of the cabin wrapped in towels and sunlight,
talking little. I leaned against you, memorizing your warm smell,
slightly bitter taste of your salt-kissed neck, pink flush
of recent exertion under your tan, wishing—
for a new language, another name for the act
of two people coming together so completely,
some golden dreaming word full of colored light
like a world seen from a distant star, unspoken since creation,
explaining why I will always see water reflecting blue crystal
of sky, green trees, your face in afternoon sun.

Note on the Collaboration

These two pieces come from a series of poems about river trips that Brent (the “my baby” of the opening line) and I have taken together–he provides the nautical expertise and equipment, I provide the poems. It’s a Couple’s Skate kind of thing.