– John Hodgen
A man I know named Watters commanded riverboats during the war in Vietnam. He drilled through the heart of the Mekong. Now he teaches peace studies to wide-eyed kids, the arc of his life having turned him this way, utterly, as if by design. They stare at him, silent as fish. He says he is casting his nets. He says power corrupts, peace through strength. He says MIRV, SEATO, NATO, MAD. He says new submarines, launching platforms, multiple warhead killing machines, Ohio Class (Ohio so centered, so far from the sea, except in the Ice Age, the glacial moraine), the new Ohios under icecaps again, circling the world smoothly, almost silently. He says there are things he cannot say. He says expiate. His eyes fill up. He turns away. And this man with whom I am comfortable kayaks in the summer all over the world, in Alaska, the Aleutians, where Inuits since the Ice Age have hunted whales the size of submarines. And he has married a woman from Ohio, whom he loves smoothly, almost silently, more than he can say, even loving her name, Edith, a name that doesn’t sit well among popular women’s names, a name she herself doesn’t like, but one that he loves just because it is her name. I tell him he is the only man I know who can have his kayak and Edith too. Like a fish out of water, I tell him, like Onitsura’s haiku. He smiles, says sometimes he flips his kayak deliberately over and over in the Bay of Fundy, turning the fragmented world on its axis again and again, smoothly, almost silently, world into water, water into shimmering light.
Weekly Poem comes via my friend Janet who, in turn gets them from Alison McGhee who curates and gathers these beautiful word sculptures.