Thomas Mitchell: “Kayaking, Long Island Sound”


I’m strolling along the beach this cold bleak morning,

the pale sea grass bending in the wind, when there,

up ahead, in the lustrous surf, I see a kayaker

sleek as a seal, cutting through the waves,

lifting his paddle to the broken sunlight.

I’m approaching 73, agile as an easy chair,

but this is where the longing starts, the yearning

for another life, the one where I’m lean and muscular,

where I shoulder my kayak, stride into the waves,

and in one fluid movement lift myself into the seat

then over the breakers.  I’m waiting for the vessel

to right, when I’m pulled into a series of surging rifts,

water brimming across the invisible bow, the kayak

moving on its own accord, then settling into a more

even flow.  I dip the paddle, counterbalancing

my weight, leaning into the sea’s wake, now one

with the kayak, wind at my back, paddling

through a spitting drizzle, in an endless straight line,

as I push through the emerald chop, into

a plateau of silence.  This is when it gets good.

The sun comes out and turns the sea a radiant blue.

Three pelicans rattle by on their way to somewhere.

Thomas Mitchell has had poems appear in numerous journals, including New England Review, New Letters, California Quarterly, New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, and Chariton Review. His two collections of poetry, The Way Summer Ends (2016) and Caribou (2018) were published by Lost Horse Press. A new collection, Art Gallery, is scheduled for release in the spring of 2021.

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