Friday, May 21, 2010

Poetry Friday: Crossing the Loch

Crossing the Loch

Remember how we rowed toward the cottage
on the sickle-shaped bay,
that one night after the pub
loosed us through its swinging doors
and we pushed across the shingle
till water lipped the sides
as though the loch mouthed 'boat'?

I forgot who rowed. Our jokes hushed.
The oars' splash, creak, and the spill
of the loch reached long into the night.
Out in the race I was scared:
the cold shawl of breeze,
and hunched hills; what the water held
of deadheads, ticking nuclear hulls.

Who rowed, and who kept their peace?
Who hauled salt-air and stars
deep into their lungs, were not reassured;
and who first noticed the loch's
phosphorescence, so, like a twittering nest
washed from the rushes, an astonished
small boat of saints, we watched water shine
on our fingers and oars,
the magic dart of our bow wave?
It was surely foolhardy, such a broad loch, a tide,
but we live—and even have children
to women and men we had yet to meet
that night we set out, calling our own
the sky and salt-water, wounded hills
dark-starred by blaeberries, the glimmering anklets
we wore in the shallows
as we shipped oars and jumped,
to draw the boat safe, high at the cottage shore.


This poem is called "Crossing the Loch" by Kathleen Jamie from Waterlight: Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2007. 

Kathleen Jamie is a poet new to me.  I think she is already a favorite.  You can listen to Garrison Keillor do a fine reading of Crossing the Loch, here.

 Row on over to Laura Salas's place for some more Poetry Friday offerings . . .


3 comments:

Andy said...

Talk about atmosphere! I'm going to check out Writers' Almanac for sure. Thanks for the lead, Janet.

all things poetry said...

What a beautiful poem!

Laura Evans

laurasalas said...

So gorgeous!

Who hauled salt-air and stars
deep into their lungs,

Yum. And totally took me back to our Scotland trip, though Randy and I definitely did NOT row across any loch at night!