Mennonite Poetry Home | Larry Nightingale



The Pools
            for Florence Jane

Throughout that summer,
endless hours of afternoons,
behind the broad flat dyke and
hidden in off our little grey-green river,
in under bittersweet-sap scented cottonwood stands
and tufted down-drift, deep among
mud-caked bush and bramble,
snagged great driftwood bleaching,
sat dreaming on dunes, rippled silt and sand,
among placid sun-warmed pools
(high-water channels stranded,
early summer flood run-off, circa '60.)
Long-legged jitterbugs, silver-black
scissored and jigged,
glinting blue-bottles dizzied, mid-air and motionless
dragon-flies dazzled,
shed, sun-baked yellow-white snake-skins
transfigured, translucent.
Fiery little world, not without alarms. Stinging insect,
fork-tongue reptile, fabled quicksand.
Yet alongside the gentle sister's day-dream
safe within an Eden of golden solitude,
the eternal afternoon or timeless hour
entranced in ever-widening sun-bright circles,
plopping river pebbles, or hard green berries,
blossomy butterfly reflections flickering round
crudely sculpted mounds and moats
and planted silver-white driftwood sticks
standing like totems.

Until a small strange-familiar beloved voice
sounding distant as downtown, or rain, or dear God
Himself, called out to us from nearby fields

A last-splash cannonball
or belly-flop, muddying pools, caking faces
for cooling, pulling on slip-slap flip-flops,
dripping wet, still half dreamily, wandered out
up maze-like nettled foot-path, over hot gravel,
past night-black snake-pit and guarding angel
back out onto the hundred cloddy rows
of our parents' berry farm.
Even as time and the river rearranged its bed
forever changing all that ...

© Larry Nightingale




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