Water Lily Mischief in the Key of F

As children it was a big deal to pick a water lily
because they were protected and we feared
we'd shame ourselves by breaking a law,
even though no one would ever know.
Now we leave each one alone, gazing
at them as if they were all the beautiful
married women we've known, as we should
despite our inscrutable lust to do otherwise,
each beguiling flower a reminder
of how lustrous these women looked
on their wedding days an hour before
walking the aisle as if conjured
by libidinous gods in a church's anteroom
mirror, where in bras and panties as breathtakingly white
as water lilies, their skin as sun-warmed and silken
as summer lake water, five sirens caress wavering tendrils
of the goddess' hair. Drifting by thousands that are not
waiting for my hand to reach down from a green
canoe, I often think it wouldn't hurt to pick
just one, but which one would I choose? I'm too
humored by the stamen that's already
erect as every married nipple I've ever imagined
hardening in the outlet of my mouth. I'm
too mindful that a water lily opens its moist,
supple art at dawn, widest in noon light,
then closes it tightly by dusk, quite
the opposite of how we are when we sleep.
But with all of them dreaming wide open now
in bright August sunlight, I'm the only
lover whose slow glide across the water,
who with every slow dip and pull of the paddle
can send out ripples that pleasure so many,
so deeply under the sleep of no one's lids.
Dan Butterfass has lived in Minnesota all his life and in Rochester, MN for the past
fourteen years. He has worked, among other ways, as an independent bookstore owner, an
outdoor writer, and a fly-fishing and canoe guide. He currently owns and operates a history
and eco-oriented tour company, and recently earned an MFA degree in poetry from
Vermont College. He lives with his wife and their three children in Rochester.