Sunday, June 27, 2010

Water's Call & The Answering of Travelers

Poem of the Day:
"On This Small Continent" by Beth Simon
The Gettysburg Review, Summer 2007

Published three summers ago, this poem, or rather the reading of it, calls for numerous trips to the dictionary -- to a student of the internet age this is commonly referred to as

Simon writes, "Tell me the flatline isn't a gift. Felucca,/bireme, coracle, catamaran" (lines 1-2), expressing both her conception of the earth as human body ("flatline" stands as both a medical and a geographical term) and her comprehensive knowledge of water vessels; "felucca" is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in the waters of the Red Sea while a "coracle" is a lightweight boat native to Wales and parts of Ireland.

Simon elaborates upon earth as human in the next line: "when the Marmara straits collapse,/from GPS to willow rope--it's all nothing but a raft of bone" (lines 2-3). But, I, or rather should I say my day, is less interested in the rhetoric of land and body and more in Simon's diction of water travel.

For the summer I am lucky to be living in a part of Cambridge that overlooks the Charles River -- fifty steps from my front door and I can touch the water, something I might want to do if I were aiming to catch a flesh-eating disease; since coming to Boston I have heard horror stories regarding the river's low level of sanitation (is this putting it too nicely?).

Regardless, this morning I had a lovely encounter, be it a purely visual one, with the Charles. With all intentions of watching my close friend Allie run a 5K I set out towards the river and parked myself on a bench with a commanding view of the water. Alas, I had read the race map entirely incorrectly and sat alone on a bench for twenty minutes confused, wondering where all the runners had gone to. But, the moments I spent searching for invisible joggers were not wasted.

Rather, I was able to watch the kayaks, the sailboats and the rowers traverse the crust of the river. The morning light made water travel seem lighter; the surface of the river looked golden, and each water vehicle was floating on the sun, a hot hot ball, rather than the cool depths of a blue (maybe green though, thanks to pollution levels) mass.

My morning chance meeting with Charles (hello again father!) was a 'small continent,' a gift of its own, smaller perhaps than the one of which Simon writes, but just as blessed with the man-made water creatures by whom she is fascinated.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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