by Lou Husted
The crocodile glides silently near the ramp,
Vacant now, except for snags of mangrove roots
Cast up by the wake of passing tugs.
The call of the curlew and snipe echoes across
The channel, empty now but for an occasional
Southbound as it picks up steam headed for
No more is heard the kerplunk of paddles as they
Enter the water in a syncopated rhythm.
Lost are the gleams of reflected sunlight off glinting blades.
Missing is the sillouette of four hunched figures
As the cayuco glides into a finger of silver cast on the
Water by the setting sun on the horizon
Of the West Bank.
The parking lot, void of movement and activity,
Bears silent witness to a stark reality.
Gone are the sore muscles, stiff sinews, and aching backs.
Absent are the lips parched dry, salted by a splash
Resulting from a stroke poorly timed.
Faded are the sunburned backs and beaming grins
Of tanned faces.
The boat sheds cast a drab pall over the entire area.
Myriad colorful hues, bright blue, jet black, lime green,
Crimson, yellow, no longer enliven the bleak surroundings.
"Predator", "Bruised Reed", "Nic", "Mis", "Almost",
"Utmost", "Rapid Transit", "Due Process", "Defiance", "Delfin",
"Lone Star", "Jungle Crews", "Snafu", "Dear Dick".
The ghosts remain.
Yet don't dispair, nor cast it all for nought,
Nor let sly time steal from the paddler's art.
For we, my friend, are joined by timeless bonds,
And paddlers we will always be at heart!
April 7, 1999