Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the Cove

(From the Cove, Lake Champlain,

Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, 2010 )

From the Cove, Lake Champlain

My father left
this cove in,
what was it,

Now I’m here again,
three decades on,

seeing the lake through his eyes:

Water always
in motion;
though also, at times,

He had spoken more than
once of season’s changing,
bringing a rain of
birds across the
sky and on the water.

He had also said to me:
“Look at all
that deep blue lake;
those distant ghost-grey mountains today;
the dark green forest sharp to the sky --
but sweet silver shallows
at home here
at the cove…”

This was the place
he always
struck out from,
every morning,
year after year.

As I write these words
a fish-hawk swoops,
hits the water hard,
with gleam of
catch in talons.

So, something
still here
of my father, then,
meeting my return.

-Kevin Macneil Brown

Among the many resonances I experience in the presence of Lake Champlain are those that vibrate with a sense of the past. When I finished the painting above in April, I knew there was a story that went with it, but I was not sure exactly what it was. I did have a sense that there was something sort of 19th century about the image.

I returned to the lake shore along Burlington Bay recently for a day of walking, thinking, sketching--experiencing the lake and its horizons as fully as I could. I was riding the bus home when the poem arrived, and I got the first draft down, knowing that I'd found the story to go with the painting.