by Alice B. Fogel
When I realized I’d drifted deep
into those riveted, river-resistant lily pads
big as masks, I was reminded
of how when you’re trapped
in insistence that it doesn’t matter
that surely means it does. My oars
slicing down on them through the water
thick with sticky greens and ropy stems
made the sound of head-slaps but didn’t
make any difference to them.
Through the muck and glint
they popped back up like pundits
trading in tautologies and rhymes.
We can’t undo what hasn’t been done,
they sang with their tongues of slime.
But the flowers! Such a presentation.
Currents twisted the boat in circles
every time I paused my rowing, proving
the existence of what if‘s own free will.
It was like the screw of Archimedes
bringing up its promises of water,
each turn saying going to going to as if
the if followed only and not the other
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