We glide silently across still water,

like Venetian lovers.

My oarsman’s deep strokes scarcely disturb

The black water, though I peer, anxious,

Over the side of this unstable craft.


We enter a narrow lock

Crowded with oblivious ships ,

This absurd vessel tipping

With the slightest shift;


I hold my breath to keep it

Steady, yet

Despite my care I lean too far,

Fall into the opaque dark..


I had feared to see deformed things,

Monstrous shapes, slithering in murky depths.

Instead, I discover glowing

green-gold light, empty

water, luminescence.


Suspended in transparent water ,

Dazzled by light, I rise, smiling,

Emerge to the sound of the oarsman’s laughter,

His hands reaching for me

As the canoe bursts free from the lock.


6 February 1994