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
And I want to go on and on about something
so he'll keep 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,
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.