Coventry Lake

My closest friend emigrated West, petrified
To hop a jet back home; I exist in an equally isolated 
     East where fish are oblivious to their own
Water, where one loon separates from its flock.

Wind’s kiteless. Names of friends drift away but acquaintances

Remain vivid. What benefit remedy when no symptoms
Equate to any known disease? I pack my anthropomorphic
     Lunch: blood oranges, artichoke hearts, kidney beans,
& yes I’ve digested & regurgitated my children or maybe

Vice versa. After rain, I dig for night crawlers under decomposing

Clippings. I fish to be elsewhere, the hoped for thrill & tug
Of the straightening line, the bass that surface trying to spit
     The hook. An acquaintance whose wife is very ill articulates
In detail her ailments, positions his easel by the lake, pastels,

Water colors, his stagnant landscapes with finite rectangular                 skies.

In my middle life, more than ever, I need a once upon a time.
I forget how easy it is to forget—can’t imagine starting
     Anything new. I used to love the satisfying finality
At the conclusion of movies when a giant The End

Flashed across the Big Screen. Maybe one solution:

We could all change our names every day. That loon,
Nursing a mangled wing, paddles lopsided, alone,
     Unnaturally close to shore, as though attached with kite                   string.
I toss him the not quite stale bread I smuggle from my pantry

& have been thinking hard about a name for him, for this.
     Unapologetically, I settle for the moment of least                               astonishment.


Copyright © 2016 by Bruce Cohen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I often fish at Coventry Lake in the very early morning and I realize my casual 
‘fishing buddies’ are oddly closer to me than my real, life-long friends. I feel a sense of disparate sadness but also a feeling of longing for my old pals. However, this poignancy might simply be the self-confrontation of middle age.”
—Bruce Cohen