The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

ECHO AND NARCISSUS

Rowena Iliescu
IDH 4007
Journal Entry #3
October 8, 1999

we skimmed across the glade,
weed parting air---shhh, shhh, shhh.
As if anything needed to be said.
But it did---does.
F'rinstance, when canoe floated still,
weed was silent,
yet the air was still there.
No sooner would i lift a paddle
then the echoes came again: shhh, shhh.
Did our passage cause so much disturbance?
Why admonish only motion?
Seeking out the hush was like
stopping to try and hear the sound
of footsteps which turn out to be
my own...so that every time I pause
to listen, footsteps pause also.


That was not all. Not at all
what color is the rush anyway?
Sometimes lovely evergreen.
Other times it seemed as though
a fire raging recently,
had charred the weed. And left behind
a thousand burned-out sparkler spikes
to poke their heads above the water's face.
I reached my hands out,
to feel sooty charcoal stalks.
But (magic) they were found to be
still green and supple and smooth.

curiouser and curiouser:
time and space in duckweed world
is not the same as what I know.
a trick of movement
sunlight upon water
iridescent strands of copper pearls
shimmer from behind
an endlessly shifting gauze curtain---
the shadows of the weeds.
This vision strange and wondrous
but like the haunting whispers,
or narcissus trying hard to touch
the beauteous visage before him,
each time I slowed the canoe to look,
the lustrous bronze would vanish,
and plain old spike rush---sooty or green,
remained---leaving me astonished.


a long and hot monotonous day
broken only by a couple
of the ever-present spiders,
one churlish crow and a green-backed heron,
doing its excellent impression of a shrub.
In no way tiresome because
the mystery of the spike rushes
sensory teasing, perceptions so fleeting.
Even now, I do not trust
what I saw or heard.
shhh, shhh, shhh.


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