Collapsed in the forest a mile
from water deep enough to float it
a boat splays in a bed of leaves.
Given this frank dereliction
Rimbaud might have prophesied
this failure of the romantic quest.
And shocked by his naïve outlook
Shelley’s hero would have drowned
in a stream barely deep enough
for wading. The rotting planks
look soft as sponge cake. Hard
to believe this craft ever buoyed
pairs of duck hunters in autumn
when the flyways crackled with game.
Now a bustle of insects claims
the dark beneath the hulk. A rasp
of phoebe’s the only birdsong
in this sadly depleted season.
I want this boat to drift again
among the lilies of Noone Pond.
I want some brazen young hero
to resurrect and deploy it
where the current stalls and last year’s
lone drowned deer has disappeared
with the breakup and exit of ice.
But already it’s more forest,
more wood decay assuming
a certain organic perspective
with which I shouldn’t interfere.
Even snapping a photo hurts
the symmetry of the scene
because I can’t plant myself
at an angle shallow enough
to catch the complete surrender
of matter to matter: a moment
too simple for art to prolong.