NOTES FOR A PLEIN AIR POEM
Because it alters every other hue, start with
sky, perhaps described as powdered pastel
blue, thin and clear as windshield glass.
The tea-steeped river transports sediment
but from this angle deflects the pale sky, so
name the smooth parts platinum or silver.
Continuous as tires ringing metal grates across
the bridge, convey the sound of white current
shoving hard on boulder heads and shoulders.
Portray, in foreground shallows, minnows
flitting to and from an algae-tinted
tire silted in like an open mussel shell.
Trees on the far bank fan low sunlight and
droop darkest green just above the water. For
deeper shadows, layer words like charcoal.
Plastic bags snagged in branches high and
low flag former water levels and can appear
in evening light to be white herons roosting.
Raymond Byrnes taught college English before joining the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat program, where he managed communications for over 30 years. Raised in Minnesota, retired in Virginia, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Typishly, Better Than Starbucks, Eclectica, Chest, Sky Island Journal, and Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Poetry Anthology.