A Boat Is a Lever
--after Simone Weil
After my student went to the doctor to Check out the rash speckling his Right hand and found out he had Leukemia, that the cancer had spread Into his lungs, then where did he go? I've called his number several times. Flat-bottom boats light in water. Brown brack and mud smell, Stumps like chewed-off candles, Cypress knees, knock and small Talk floating over water, a motor Chuffing off, a small blue cloud of excess Gasoline spreads an ugly Rainbow on tan water. Every Thing rests on its proposition Including smooth isobars along the bay. Since collective thought cannot exist As thought it passes into things. Chemo takes a few gray hairs. Mustard Cruises the bloodstream under a blizzard Of white cells. Subdued by the arbitrary, Suspended, the one in the boat still needs To row it -- to direct the muscles, to Maintain equilibrium with air And water. If water is waveless Then the boat reads by leading marks. There is nothing more beautiful Than a boat.
From Swamp Candles, by Ralph Burns, published by University of Iowa Press. Copyright © 1996 by Ralph Burns. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Ralph Burns was born in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1949.
Date Published: 1996-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/boat-lever