One mile from the boat house

Here, upstream from the hydro-electric plant, poorly fit
into a rented kayak, I’m holding the paddles wrong,
abrading my knuckles on the hull with each stroke.

The life jacket climbs my gut with each motion
and needs fixing every other second —I’ll never
find a rhythm

—recumbent—too much so —my back
does all the work. There was something to adjust
for the placement of my feet.

No matter my effort or intention, this plastic craft
pulls this way and that on a sine wave
course through the water.

And you tell me each time my boat crashes into yours
that it’s fine, remind me we’re here to have fun
which I say to you I know —I know.

And I do take it to heart, your wish for this day
—how you say you’ve come to appreciate the present tense
—each moment’s gift.

Just now, you are far enough from me that I can see you,
bright white hair, still long, lifts from your shoulder
—a banner behind you.

This first leg out, we move against the wind but with the current.
Ahead of us, our son and his wife share a two-hole boat.
They’ve set a good pace, those two. I see them slow, then start

to circle back, hear the music first, then the words
—their happy, hopeful conversation echoing off the breezy light
—something about where they will stow the child when it comes.Tom Driscoll

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