I often walked the beach on windy days because the waves
carried me where I’d never been and erased footprints.
The waves held secrets I kept trying to snatch but always
failed no matter how often they kept repeating themselves,
no two the same. Sometimes I’d bring a book but reading
I tried to imagine Nicolet’s wonder seeing Lake Michigan
looking for the Orient. What’d happened to the Chinese
damask robe Nicolet had worn greeting the Winnebago’s
at Green Bay? A gust of wind overturned his canoe—
he must’ve known how thin birch was so why hadn’t he
learned to swim? Why hadn’t anyone saved him?
But perhaps he’d been alone. After countless uncharted
rivers and lakes, drowning at familiar Sillery must’ve
been a surprise.
The gray sky looked restful—and I looked for a long time
but all that changed were undulating clouds like a child
practicing the letter “M” until a flock of gulls crossed
Carol Smallwood is a literary reader, judge, and interviewer. A recent book is Patterns: Moments in Time (WordTech Communications, 2019).