The Night Boat Tour, 2007 by Roy Bentley
Animatronic lawn reindeer and sleigh translate,
anywhere in Florida, to the new resident missing
the North and snow. We stop at a seafood place
where pelicans scour the dock for French fries,
plundered onion rings their Christmas banquet.
Anyway, I see signage for the night boat tour.
And one of us pays the fare. We climb aboard,
newly rootless, Americans afoot in the world—
judging by large Tomahawk Nation tattoos,
the tour guide must be an FSU fan or alumnus.
Engines engage, thrum noticeably. Under stars.
I don’t know about you, love, but I felt something
not unlike the Christ child, freshly manger-dropped—
dare I use the word happy—when the boat’s wake
turned under and executed a Christmas-tree shape
offshore from groves and live oaks. Pastureland.
Roy Bentley is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. His fifth book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize by Billy Collins. A new book, American Loneliness, is from Lost Horse Press.