I never think when I write; nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well. ~Don Marquis

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Funeral

His eyes were on me
like an owl in the barn on movement below
and I'm struck by an old emotion.
You see, I met a man who knows
that the highest point in the Great Lakes Basin
lies not far from a bluff where water drops 900 feet
to a river bottom untrespassed.
Who knows that?

Others eat shrimp and drink wine
and don't know they don't know
while he takes me into the forest
and we listen for the loons.

A man who would
rather hunker down at a campfire
than eat shrimp and drink wine
knows things I don't know.

You see I met this guy who pays attention to words
like a tiler to the blade slicing through water.
When I talk I feel his eyes
listening, listening.
And I want to go on and on about something
so he'll keep looking
and looking.

Was it the sound of water falling
or the whirr of a whippoorwill I heard
in the inflection of his voice—in his story of kayaking
on Lake Superior in a storm.
The cry of the loon is interrupted

by the clap of the skeets outside the yacht club.
They punctuate our conversation like a grammarian.
Shooters send their clay targets flying across the water
on the simulated angle of birds in flight
with no mind to the wake inside. Life goes on.
You have to hit your target.

The first time you hear a loon, you know what it is.
Like the first time you meet someone
you already know.
Draw me a map on a napkin
and I'll follow.
Take me kayaking on open water,
I'll follow.

When the silence amplifies what we won’t say or ever do
clay pigeons fly across the water and we look and look.
Only the loon in a lonely decibel
says what we won’t say.

8 comments:

Talli Roland said...

What a wonderful poem - I can see it in my mind. Thank you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Talli,
Thanks so much.

Anthony Duce said...

Wonderful words… Someone who knew lakes like this would be truly worth knowing. I envy you knowing him and the understanding of his world.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Tony,
Thank you. More words you could paint a picture for!

Liza said...

Oh my gosh this is wonderful, touching, gut wrenching and stunning for its rhythms and imagery. I feel this poem Yvonne. I want to fold it up and carry it in my heart.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Liza,
OMG! What a lovely comment. And just when I was feeling down and grumpy and unappreciated. You're a sweetheart. I'm so glad you liked it.

Deborah said...

I really like the conversational tone that draws the reader close into this. Vividly done!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Deborah,
Thanks! I sure do appreciate you weighing in.