We Christen the Canoe Sunday School – a poem by Dayna Patterson

We Christen the Canoe Sunday School

For silver lake, and mist scudding water,
knocking boats at the dock, and oarlocks,
plastic ponchos made from garbage sacks,
and the hour of rain that made us miserable, thank you.

Thank you for a warm wind luffing us dry,
and blue minnows of smoke rising between pines,
a rope of cloud settled across the green,
its white partition bisecting mountains.

For the rut of college kids on the beach,
their aluminum canoes roped for tug-of-war,
the six packs of boys, thin bikinis of girls,
their laughter rioting across the water, thank you.

Thank you for the visitation of an osprey,
dipping deeply over silver surface,
for her choppy, lop-sided ascent,
spark of scales, tailfin in her talons.

For a rainbow caught on a dry fly,
the rich gold of its coin eyes,
copper flecks in pectoral fins,
silver glimmer of its belly, thank you.

Thank you for a careful knife inserted in the fish’s anus,
for a silent score to accompany the gutting,
these daughters who satellite their father,
hands over mouths as fish viscera drift off. Thank you.

Thank you for teeming canoes and kayaks splashing,
a flotilla of paddleboats churning,
a motorboat’s steady whine and white wake,
and a beatific quiet after its passing.


Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared recently in POETRY, Crab Orchard Review, and Passages North. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetrydaynapatterson.com

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