Canoe Song

Here on this water I collide with You.
I am clumsy and small.



Here on this water I collide with You.
I am clumsy and small.

I blink
And the world turns upside down:
Your deep water grips the prow of my boat.
Your wide sky pries my heart large.
Your thick clouds twist under like a rope.

You are here and something is happening.

The cellos are tuning, and
I am a child crept into the orchestra pit.
The trumpets are mighty!
The tympani rumbles its part!
Soon, the world will begin.

I am a child at the adult table.
They are speaking riddles and mysteries;
Words fly high around my ears,
Wisdom willy-nilly flashing here and there like lightening.

I have come upon You at work.
I am a spectator.
I hope I will not be asked to leave.


Now I hear You.
Down You come to me, down, down, wet drops down.
You are sending me Your song.

All my senses are flashing
Bright thoughts from You to me to You again!
You are making the air dance!
You have welcomed me in.
You have told me my secret name.
We are laughing together, You and I.
You are making me as tall as the sky!

I am not a child now, I am a friend!
I am a lover well-beloved!
I am a strong tree, well-tended, deeply loved.
My roots push deep, push deep, deep down.
I am crazy rich!
I am more beautiful than anyone!
I wear a crown, and my shoulders arch back.

I push deep, paint the water on the left, on the right.
I push deep, deep. Left-left. Right-right.
We are painting the water together.
I am steady and strong.


There are ducks on the water, ducks and geese.
Every feather fine, wings wide, necks arched.
There’s a white swan on the water, proud and royal.

We are two crowned beings, you and I, white swan.
Bend your proud neck down to see
How well-beloved my Well-beloved has made me.
Flash wide your white wings—once.

I dip deep, push deep, smooth sail by.

I am on my way, white swan.
I am on my way to where
God is wringing out the clouds.

There is no laughter like the laughter of God,
When you are caught deep, deep in His delight.
I am terrified by the beauty of God!
I am lured by His oboe melody,
Luring the wind through the trees,
Alluring my heart.
His love song is so inexorably sweet.

He is making the air dance!
He is making the water sing for me!

©2013 Deborah King

8 thoughts on “Canoe Song

  1. I always connect quickly to stories and poems that help me grasp the revelatory character of creation, how our good Creator can be felt and known through what he has made—felt and known through cold and wet and warm and bright and through things that stretch our imagination about what is terrifying and powerful and beautiful and good. Words can’t catch it all, but your poem made a wonderful run at it!


      1. “mostly lost in translation”–I get that. Using words–symbolic abstract signs–to capture or objectify realities we apprehend at a more elemental, sensory/sub-cognitive (emotional?) level can be frustrating. It is for me especially true in nature, which I often experience as a sacred space that carries a sort sacramental/revelatory force, a space where we can somehow approach and experience our Creator through senses that run prior and deeper than what we can easily convey or explain with abstract terms. We can only try to compare the experience to other experiences that others can also imagine–sitting as a child at a table listening to adult conversation, being in the corner of a symphony pit as the divine symphony bursts forth, or being caught in a canoe as a storm is descending. In it all we somehow sense that we have been brought there to be included in something–to feel seen, loved, and embraced (blessed) by the One who made us. We sense that though we are small and frail–like a child–we are not invisible and are actually being woven into the tapestry of the moment. It is interesting that poetry and story use words in ways that actually begin to create sacred spaces no unlike what God has given us in his creation, where people can begin to experience his Presence.


      2. Wow–what a muddle I’ve just written! A good poem might be able to say this in a sentence or two. I might suggest one that kind of does: “The Moor” by RS Thomas. It’s worth looking up, I think.


  2. Sounds like you grasped my meaning exactly–I am glad it was not so murky as I sometimes fear! Thanks for the poem suggestion. I like this bit:

    “But stillness
    Of the heart’s passions — that was praise
    Enough; and the mind’s cession
    Of its kingdom.”

    A forgetting of oneself in awe of something greater is one of the great blessings of time spent in nature.


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