Rebecca Foust

Mom’s Canoe

Do you remember your old canoe?
Wooden wide-bellied, tapered ends
made to slip through tight river bends
swiftly, like shadow.
Hull hollow-ribbed, wing of bird,
skimming the water more glider than boat,
ponderous in portage, weightless afloat.
Frail origami, vessel of air,
wide shallow saucer suspended where 
shallows met shadows near the old dam.
Remember how it glowed like summer honey, 
rubbed with beeswax and turpentine
against leaks, cracks, weather and time?
All your housekeeping went into that canoe,
riding bow lifted, arced up like flight,
you j-stroking, side-slipping, eddying out. 
Frugal with movement, all without effort, 
like you walked and ran. I still see you 
rising from water to sky,
paddle held high,
river drops limning its edge.
Brown diamonds catch the light 
as you lift, then dip.
Parting the current, you slip
through the evening shadows.
You, birdsong, watersong, slanting light,
following a river bend, swallowed from sight.