The hundred years flood
that’s what the old man calls it
comes once in a lifetime
or twice if you live long enough

I take him out on Canton late
evening sun slants down on blue water
lapis lazuli and gold
a man too old for lakes
and night and John boats
that slap the waves hard

He points to the channel
and I know it
even in flood
swing past the top of dead oak
water parched and stark
where fingered branches point to the river
caught between reeds and convulsed
The boat knows
we turn and float into shadow
of lake grass hair
bent toward our wake
as the channel sucks us in
and tangled root and branch
red earth and black night
pull us toward the moon
There is mist upon the water
and the old man cries
as the night bird circles above us
crazy old man and me

We drift down toward Fort Supply
tie up to a rotted tree trunk
and sleep lifted by water
laid on swell of wave
under dew and dream of water
and moon

Sun day dawn streaks of magenta
fire across the water
and the old man
and the mist

And then there are two with us in the boat
two forms of silver with ice fall eyes
and hair spun out like glass
light as the dew upon my shirt
and beard and boot
and night combed hair

Slender fingers of mist
entwine lift me to my feet
as breath expels
heart stops
lungs fill
veins flood
tears blood

From the river mist
forms rise, yearn toward the sun
host in dissolution
drawn from earth to fire
droplets single
in clouds of mist
and in the boat two
dew and sweat and tears and blood

And racked between earth and sun
I stand
and the mist trails across black water
and the mist lifts from swollen river
and the mist melts into mist
and the dawn is red and purple

I do not hear the outboard
as they drag my boat upstream
take the old man off
they will bury him
dry husk in dry ground

I cannot go
I must wait
for the hundred years flood