The slightest drip of a paddleis too much. Let the canoe slide
by itself into the rushes and lily pads.
Lean far over the bow, your arm
a dead stick, drifting its shadowthrough the water.
You scoopa turtle from behind, snatch it
from the log, a hard bulgeescaped inward.
Snappers, you grab betweenyour careful fingers, arched
across the shell, back from
their craning dinosaur necks,their mute bird beaks.
When you miss, you hearthe soft blip. Bubbles trail offin deep, iridescent angles.
You don’t catch themfor any reason. They scratch around
the canoe’s wet bottom, leaving
stinking pools, and you bring them
two miles home. For days they wallow
and scrape their brown helmets
in the aluminum tub by the dock.
You add mussel shells and a petosky stone
for company. You feed them worms,
grubs, and a granddaddy long-legs.
You get used to hearing them.
When you go to swim, or sit
at the end of the dock feeding
the clamoring swans at sunset,
you start believing that skidding
and shucking against the tub is their real voice.
But when you let them go,they ease down the rocks and slide
unruffled and heavy as fishing lead
under the alien weedsin righteous silence.