Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Canoeing Song

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Canoeing Song

I go canoeing with Pauline Johnson.
I take the bow; she, the stern.

Port/starboard; stroke on stroke—
we paddle in unison; our liquid song:

wings dipped in silvered glass.
Behind us: cottages diminish,

below the shore’s receding line;
trees rendered en grisaille.

No wind; no wave, we skim
the skin of sky. When

dawn mists lift, we drift toward
the narrows, our paddles lazing

across the gunwales, blades raining
freshwater pearls; beneath the depths:

the slender shadow of our hull
darkening granite-— boulders

coughed from earth’s bright core.
Somewhere up lake,

a heron fans open steel wings;
the loon cries, vanishes.

I twist round—- she’s still there,
sitting on the stern’s worn thwart;

against starched cotton, her bear-
claw necklace reflecting first rays.

The rising breeze takes my cap;
steals stray wisps from her bun.

How long do we drift? Without a word,
she grasps her paddle’s shaft;

a back sweep directs us home.
I go canoeing with Pauline Johnson.

I take the bow; she, the stern.
Port/starboard; stroke on stroke—

we paddle in unison; our liquid song:
wings dipped in silvered glass.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Karen Shenfeld

Toronto poet Karen Shenfeld is the author of The Law of Return (Guernica Editions, 1999) and The Fertile Crescent (Guernica Editions, 2005). Her work has also appeared in well-known journals published in Canada, the United States, South Africa and Bangladesh. Her personal documentary, Il Giardino, The Gardens of Little Italy, was screened at the 2007 Planet in Focus Environmental Film & Video Festival.

Go to Karen Shenfeld ’s Author Page