Neither the Season, Nor the Place
Lake Santee, SC
Some mornings I mutter down the hallway
of our marriage and open the only available door.
But once in a while, say on a warm January morning,
I ride out with him on the smooth lake of it,
our small boat in the midst of quivering loons,
the soprano of their notes—not calls, really,
but soft barkings—reaching out into the air
like questions that reorder the day.
In these high-pitched tones of small dogs, the loons
sound wounded, but they're not:
they drift on the honey-sweet water, unfettered
and safe in their wintering. We watch one bob
and dive, and just when we're distracted, it resurfaces
a few feet from us, a white-breasted surprise.
Another and then another loon rises in place,
stretches its thick neck, flapping its wings,
and shakes off a shiver of water. They appear
and disappear. Around us their quiet yelping, the rising
and diving—our boat rocking, occasionally, in another
boat's wake. Their bodies glide in a slate cloak
of understatement, not the black-and-white
plumage they're known for, their bright-checkered
beauty—this being neither the season, nor the place.
[First published in The Southern Review; rptd. in Keep and Give Away]
[First published online at Verse Daily]