Oxbrook Lake, July 2014

My love, we floated for hours
In kayaks, side by side, scarcely dipping our paddles.
No motors allowed here, no soul in any
Of the southerly shore’s three other cabins.

Still, we orbited north,
Through a calm, sequestered cove, where beavers had left
Neat piles of musk on four flat rocks.
We didn’t smell fetor: the breeze bore it off.

The beavers somehow know
To place their mounds at every point of the compass.
We wondered how they could be so precise,
Though ours, to be sure, was easy wonder.

The same breeze lifts the curtain
In our room, from which we’ve banished watches and clocks,
Having no obligations, our children grown,
They and their children not due here for weeks.

The wind raises tendrils of hair
From your head on the pillow. I adore your hair.
The water, quiet marvel, appeared to lift us
Above all tension, above despair

At those wrenching deaths last year,
Your mother’s and brother’s, at whatever else could appall.
You trailed an arm in the water. I love
Your arms, and your long legs tucked in the hull.

As if fixed in one place, the sun
Shed just the right warmth on us as it floated there.
We floated too, between water and air,
As if we’d never be let down.


Syndey Lea

SYDNEY LEA was Poet Laureate of Vermont (2011-15). His twelfth collection of poems, No Doubt the Nameless, was published in 2016 by Four Way Books. His fourth collection of lyrical essays, What’s the Story? Short Takes on a Life Grown Long, appeared in 2015 from Green Writers Press. Lea founded and for thirteen years edited New England Review. Before his retirement, he had taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Middlebury, and several European universities. His thirteenth volume of poems, Here, will appear in 2018 from Four Way Books. He and his successor as Vermont state poet Chard deNiord have recently published Roads Taken (Green Writers Press, 2017), an anthology of contemporary Vermont poetry.

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