Yellow Mullein

Beyond the healing mullein the lake seems calm
at the sight but gentle disturbances of breeze play outward.

I know that the other side is tickled
by exploring fingers of infant whitecaps.

A sail luffs outside the bay
off that grassier green of distant white pine,
then drifts into the bay maybe waiting for control
or just lazy competence from the cockpit.

To kayaks are passing.
They stop every so often, join at the prow and kiss.
Then they sidle off shyly
behind the ash and spruce on the lake bank.

Three pontoon boats idle off the point,
white ships in a middle distance turning slowly
cozened also by the same breeze,
as though they could choose their own heading.

They are thinking as ships, self-deceived.
As what they merely are they enjoy the safe company
of families fishing or sunning or dreaming,
and dreaming their own shining mirage of heading.

It is Labor Day.

The sailboat has shifted course,
once and then once again, a gliding distance behind the four
small boats circling one of the sunken islands on the lake,
fishing for fish . . . or territory, as humans demand.

A freedom from work far away from what tomorrow
promises when the territories will have become
invisible again to the peaceful belligerents and fought over
again with blind and helpless, silent violence.

The sailboat has turned about once more.
The fishing boats have separated,
aiming for another point of convergence at another
sunken island, another territory visible to electronics.

They maneuver, a holiday battle for invisible territory,
made humane, reasonable for them
by way of ancient traditions and voiceless rules.
Not like tomorrow. We do sullen battle to pay for play.

But none of us need care for tomorrow now,
in our silent movement on this shining morning
on the glittering lake beyond the rising stalk
of soothing yellow mullein.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.