Withlacoochee River, 1986

Strange, how there’s no money in bending

spoons, levitating, walking through walls, eating fire.

Stranger still, the mind’s tireless insistence

on returning to the same vault of memory: 

a woven hammock bleached by the sun,

beach glass, the texture of a Van Gogh,

metallic oysters, cold beer, fried shrimp,

French vanilla ice cream.

Strangest of all, perhaps, are the fingerprints, bones,

poetry – the circumstantial evidence all around us,

everywhere we go, all our lives.

Take, for instance, the decaying wood

of this old canoe, once paddled

by my father’s hands up the Withalacoochee

to a hidden crystal spring, his long toes

hanging on to their cheap sandals.

Every bit of wood poking up

through the surface of the water

an alligator in my imagination,

every cypress tree along the bank

a bent grandmother of my boyhood.

The hours of that summer too free

to be measured, the days too wild to be held.

Journeys undocumented, stories untold.

The perils of being at sea too long,

the price of coming ashore, no match

for the danger of missing a siren song,

never casting adrift, never charting a course.

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