Relaxed in the flow of things, we float
Down the wide river in a small boat.
There is nothing to do but to pluck
With leisured fingers on the lute,
Let the song rise in the throat
And spill over the water, or not.
The boat drifts slowly. On either side
The landscape passes like a long scroll
Full of intricate detail. Each tributary’s slide
Into the main stream makes the wide
River wider. How gradually we glide
Seawards, how vivid the afternoon sky.
The different water-birds around us
Vanish and return to the surface,
Drops sparkling. They are full of business
But we are caught up with luxurious
Late day warmth, the lute idly plucked,
The possibility of a kiss.
Far over the river sounds can be heard:
A bull bellowing from his pen,
The high chaa chaa of a gliding water-bird
And the hint of the water’s gurgle
Against distant banks. The returning herd
Answers the bull. The boat drifts on.
Six plums tied in a cloth, some bread,
Are all our simple provisions,
Along with half a bottle of cheap red.
All day we have followed the delicate thread
Of the lute. We glide and sing. Ahead
The huge moon rising, almost red.
All day we drifted downriver in our flimsy boat,
The dark cargo ships slid by like dreams.
Now we are beyond the delta. We float
On calm water, deep blue and remote.
There is no land beyond the wet
Horizon. The stars are coming out.
This appeared in Carapace.