Water Skiing with Robert Creeley

Christian Anton Gerard


I hold various headshots I've cut from my own photographs over your face
just to feel the wind blowing a few of your curls,
that little outboard's vibration under your hand on that lake
(at least I imagine it a lake) when I take your Selected Poems off the shelf.

Isn't power a weird thing? The boat's wake suggests some decent speed.
Sometimes I imagine if you sneezed right as Bruce Jackson snapped that photo
and your head bent down, I'd be back there in the middle of the wake
slalom skiing, waving one hand in the air.

People would wonder if I was waving at the camera or to you and Bruce.
Maybe I'd be about to put a thumb up or down as if to say speed on or slow now,
the water's rougher than it looks but nobody can tell because
Robert Creeley's driving a boat, having his picture taken, and probably writing

a poem in his head or at least thinking to himself this experience will become
a poem. I mean, really, how often does anyone drive a boat without looking, while posing
and pulling a skier? Nobody I know's ever done it. And I know a lot of people.
I'm sorry that I'm writing this to you in a present that is and isn't yours.

But I wasn't smart enough to know you before now. I'm still not, but Art Smith was
smart enough to tell me to buy your poems because he knew they would be good for me.
Like William Carlos Williams saying "there, and there" to you
because "what one wants is / what one wants, yet complexly" as you say he said.

When I read your poems, especially the early ones, I feel like I'm skiing behind you
into a whale's mouth. What a stunt it is to live, you say, when I climb into the tiny boat.
You pat my back, hand me a pen, paper, and bottle. Nobody'll believe us about this whale,
you say, and the paper's not waterproof, but trust'll get it where it needs to go.