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Nether

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The equilibrium of any particular aspect of nature rests on the equivalence of its opposites. —Piet Mondrian

Some land lives
so water can comb

it into grids. This
is why lowlands

tilt still toward
the sea. This so

we call our canal
leaning horse,

hat tempting wind,
somewhere a tear

in linen where
the loom bent

a heddle. We plant
lapis in the middle

of begonia boxes
hung from our

houseboat’s sills.
At night the eels

snug against
our houseboat’s hum,

water’s warm hem.
We hear them slip

itch into our floor.
Our houseboat lilts

when the bigger boats
slide us waves.

Our concrete floats.
We’re mostly moored

to stay. In the damp
bank where the ducks

hedge weeds,
our bikes sleep.

We lean toward wind.
Our pant legs thin

from all the rain
on our knees.

From here the horizon
gauzes above us.

We are half hidden
by light. We are folds

in fog. We stand
open on the deck

and beckon the silt
to settle. We wait

for a balance so grand
that any flicker

of inverse could
pull us up to spires.

Source: Poetry (September 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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Nether

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