In a Rowboat on Purgatory Lake

metmuseum.org

Gently lapping, almost silent, water
I pull out oars, swing them in back
and pull to my front. Wondering if a guitar
made from this wood, which slices water as glass,
would likewise drip with such careless beauty naturally,
like a tree dropping leaves, the sound of nothing.

Pulling the oars in, I think of nothing
but the calm of the lake and its endless water
and the length of my arms, naturally
aged arms give to aching back.
I stoop to let a little water in a glass.
Empty forest rings like untouched strings on a guitar.

I think of childhood with neighbor kid’s guitar.
he knew how to play nothing.
Memories appear vague through the fogged glass
of time, which passes me swiftly like water.
Not a mighty river, but a lazy creek in back
with powers hidden, strength inborn in nature.

The opposite of my neighbor who, feigning naturally
given talent, would compose a cacophony on his guitar
with no skill and absolute ease. Nothing yet to give back.
His supposed abilities amounted to nothing.
Childhood ambition disappears like evaporating water,
like streams of rain running down a window glass.

Taking off my once clean, now smudged glasses.
I wish a tributary flowed from this lake’s nature.
Stuck in a rowboat sitting on cold, stagnant water.
As a child I always wanted to play guitar.
But I put aside those childish ways, which bring nothing.
I slide out the oars, thinking I may turn back.

But who am I to try to turn back?
The course of life is somewhere, etched in glass.
Those who go opposite the grain amount to nothing.
It’s impossible to oppose the rules that are naturally
imposed on us, like the tuning of a guitar.
We can only go the direction of the water.

The water that I pull pushes back.
Memories of a guitar cut like broken glass.
It’s human nature to change absolutely nothing.

-ejl

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Comments

2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Robbie,

    I love it. It simultaneously stirs me and settles me.

  2. Henry,

    The images of water glide by me in a smooth, gentle stream of thoughts. In your piece I feel the interplay of water, guitar, life, and overwhelming place of the lake on each of us. Wonderful and beautiful. Thank you.

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