You surfaced a week after you disappeared
rolling with the waves like a Jack Pine cut in its prime
afloat just beneath calm, cold Canoe Lake
under a hot ash sky as red as Algonquin Fall.
Your limbs drooped, heavy with black soot
the colour of the distant hills across the lake
you spent a summer etching in the twilight, alone
your weathered face warmed by a sinking sun.
They found your empty canoe, adrift
fishing gear stowed with oils and canvas
but the fish weren’t biting the morning
you slipped into a cold, wet mystery.
The Coroner called it, “accidental drowning”
and that may be true, but rumours rolled
across the flat lake, faster than a July squall
breaking the calm for ninety years.
Perhaps it was a drunken brawl, you pitched over
while old man Fraser got the better of you
or perhaps a dispute with Blecher about the War,
no one knows for certain, except the blue lake.
The lake speaks to no one, she holds her secrets tight
but we have your paintings, those sad, lonely paintings
the untamed land ablaze in reds, the swirling sky unreachable
canvas awash with your solitude – forever.