Swamp cypress rise like elephant legs
from tannin water the color of oolong tea.
Needle crowns hold up a quilt of sky
for me and a boy as we glide in a silent canoe.
From tannin water as dark as wet tobacco,
I turn to meet his gaze but he looks past me.
Paddles raised, our canoe drifts toward
alligators rising from below.
He looks past me, his gaze lost amid the trees,
cawing crows the only conversation.
Does our silence draw reptiles to the surface?
Alligators spy us from below.
Cawing crows skim from tree to tree,
as if to dare us deeper into the maze.
They flick their wings, darting to and fro.
I beckon to the boy, "Let's go, I want to follow."
As if to greet us at the doors to a maze,
cypress crowns hold up a sheet of clouds.
I call the boy who doesn't see me, "I want to go
to the end of a cypress labyrinth, where legs of elephants grow."
Christine Swint, Georgia, USA