Canoe Sing
Holly Mitchell

I let you drive
after release parties
without telling you
how drunks put the steel in Nana’s ankles.
I let you drive though the bus was free.
If I asked you, my friend,
how you felt,
I don’t remember.
I probably did
                        ask & believe.
That was the opposite of intimacy,
superficial as black ice
lacing a country road,
I see. Still,
you were the only one steering me
through the verdant pitch
between one campus
                & ours. Where caught,
after parking unscathed,
you turned your ankle
walking up the eroded steps.

As the concert let out
you texted: Find me later

                    Will you do that for me?
I never did learn

what I meant to others.
I didn’t paddle

into Lower Lake after dark
brusquely harmonizing

above the algal blooms
& northern eels.

I thought you were weeping
on a close shoulder

listening to chamber music
until the crowd broke.

I fled the cathedral.
I would have found you

if I were alone. I could’ve
touched the back of my neck

& found spine.
But it was the eve

of our graduation.
I sobbed on a knoll

as my mother stood by.
She said, You’re scaring me.

When I looked at you, I saw
a small dark apartment:
cat dander & muslin.
When I looked, you stirred
freckled leaves in your tea.
When the temperatures dipped
below sixty, responsibility
grew around whom as hedgework.
Holly Mitchell is the author of Mare's Nest (Sarabande Books). Holly received an MFA from New York University and lives in Brooklyn.


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