Jenny Berkel is a singer-songwriter and poet from rural Ontario. In between playing concerts across the globe, she writes and teaches English. She is currently working on a new album. Her writing has been featured in The Literary Review of Canada, The Puritan’s Town Crier, and elsewhere.
He was an accidental water witcher.
An unparalleled prophet. In 1967,
a neighbour gave him a forked
willow branch and thrust him
onto the backyard. Spread of darkness
over Lake Erie, pockets of wet within
factory-soaked soil, Nanticoke pushing
power across counties with
the lake tossing its limbs.
We needed to sit on the rim
of Ontario to watch the storm batter
the horizon: earth’s edge sliced out below,
black clouds piling up in the sky,
a murder of crows cawing. All eyes
on the willow as he walked on water,
a Peter full of faith in the upturned mess
of seven children. Baseballs, dolls, tulip
bulbs, his hands locked around
the branch, wavering on the crest
of the well of darkness
far below. We watched him
criss-cross and waited
We didn’t know
that he didn’t know
either. A father brings to flight
all gulls of disbelief,
so when the earth yanked him
in, we watched him dive
and fish for fallen light
with no surprise, satisfied.
A well is a wish, an echo
of desire. A child calls into the dark
and feels confident in a reply,
crouching in the mud and peering
at the ground — the father that bends
towards it, the water that pools below it,
the clamour of crows behind it.
Once, we followed his footprints