Peter Doig: White Canoe, 1990–1

It is ivory, or marble —

Some blinding material else,

Some godbone out of the

Shadow of a singularity —


It is fulminant, impossible,

Cleaving the water without

Seeming to touch it,

Its reflection bowed


And no less bright.

In the stern a creamy shape

Lies, indistinct. Feathers?

We cannot say. About it,


Marigold lights play,

As if radiating from

The very water. In the

Surface, the colours of


The forest tremble, fragile

And cool. Frond greens,

Cloudlike blues, dying

Amber, here and there


Orbs of white, as though

Some beneficent spirit

Had hung gig-lamps in the

Trees and sown them with


Fire. Below these veils of

Colour, yet more luminous

Shapes may float, trailing

Captured stars in their gills.

Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. Since his move to the United States, his poems and translations have featured in a host of reviews and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. In September, Mountain Tales Press will publish his first chapbook, entitled Afterworks.