The Scientist and the Poet

by williamkupinse

paddle their kayak in reverse unison;
from above they are dragonflies mating in flight,
from below a sea-mammal’s blubbered white keel. 

The scientist has not finished her dissertation,
but in her mind she takes the world apart
and replaces the pieces carelessly lost,
so she is a scientist. The poet
has not finished his book, but he scribbles
on scraps of paper all day, mouthing
the words to the air, so a poet he is nonetheless. 

She reads the temporal maps of tides
while he steers with his feet and spots bald eagles.
They both dream of whales they won’t see. 

Cabbage Island is best approached in a manner
other than the route they take, scraping
the fiberglass hull, cutting their feet on sea rocks. 

Cabbageless, the island shelters everything else:
puffballs, bandit raccoons, thicket-fringed oaks,
deer with sapling legs. And the remains
of exiled Salish men, BC Parks’ sore oversight.

The waves patiently unpack the land,
loosen bones that bring the sleepers strange dreams:
the poet opens a door in the earth; the scientist
sees raccoon people cleaning skulls.

The visions stay with them as they cross,
barely, Boiling Reef, where they shout
above the spray and learn to trust
their arms all the way to Narvaez Bay.

At Saturna Island, poet and scientist moor
their kayak by the brass fittings of forty-foot sloop.
They slick back their saltspray hair, trudge past
sloping vineyards, photograph their winery lunch.

Purple starfish mottle Pender Island’s passage
where the two uncork new bottles
across from the tony docks of Poets Cove Resort. 

Lets go there, pirate-style, the poet says
at dusk, demand a sonnet or make them
walk the plank. She replies, I’m glad
it’s not called Scientists Cove. 

In the morning they float past far rocks
where birthing seals heave sprawling.
The scientist sees genes unfolding,
the poet stanzas shaping themselves.
With their paddle each makes a farewell sign.

Love, the seals answer in expectation;
love the finch sings, as it flits branch to branch; love
the hummingbirds sign in a barnstorm of wooing;
from his eyrie the eagle surveys his prey with love;
the raccoon pair dream of beloved
night when they clam in the bay; love
rubs velvet from the deer’s startling antlers.

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