On the Edge

Don’t read Billy Collins’ poetry first thing in the morning.
That’s what he did.
He rolled over to the edge of the bed,
planted his bare feet on the carpeted floor and reached
over to the bookcase for one of his newer books,
in this case, Billy Collins’’ Aimless Love,
the poems within going off in every direction,
with no end to the subject line.

Every action could become a poem
and suddenly,
his legs over the edge of the bed and feet on the floor
became an earlier time.
He was floating in a wooden rowboat on Buckeye Lake,
on a summer’s day
his bare legs over the edge, his feet dangling in the water,
wondering if a passing bass might be tempted to
nibble at his toes.

Again, even earlier, at maybe ten years of age,
He’s in a remote part of Canada, out in the open water
in a rowboat by himself,
looking over the edge at his bait twenty feet below,
watching one fish and then another, come and go,
testing his patience.
He had drifted behind a small island out of his parent’s sight.
Was he even wearing a life jacket?

And now he’s back in bed, peering over the edge of himself,
looking inward, seeing in the emptiness
a pinprick of light.
He waits there, still patient, for the next show to begin,
no life jacket now either.


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