They seemed like scratches on the inside,
Spider webby lines in the cool alumininum
That slid through this water.
I didn’t have to decide not to look at them.
Because they were almost nothing.
And I hadn’t seen them yet.
I put my oar in the water.
And you put your oar in the water.
And I liked how we found this rhythm.
Even as little beads.
Of what might have been just condensation.
Started to run down the sides.
Then, not even pools. Just little drops by our sandaled-bare feet.
I used to wonder who saw it first.
But there’s no time for that anymore.
We were in the middle of the lake.
When suddenly life jackets seemed like a good idea.
When paying attention seemed suddenly like a good idea.
We fell out of the rhythm before we did anything else.
It was futile for both of us to keep rowing anyway.
Sometimes you don’t live you just cancel each other out.
You slid your oar in next to us.
And found a little cup that might be up to the job.
When you scooped the canoe bottom it scratched.
The cup was a third full and you tossed it off to the side.
I was still rowing then.
I couldn’t decide which shore was closer.
And the wind, the wind rose up from every direction.
Pushing us back, laughing at my shoulders straining.
Strokes that had been sure and true.
We weren’t moving much.
Your cup was coming up full now.
The water wasn’t just trickling in.
We yelled at each other with out using our voices.
“Go faster” We said to each other.
When I started baling you started rowing.
I didn’t say out loud it doesn’t work from the front.
You didn’t say out loud don’t just curve your hands and splash it out
Use the cup stupid.
It didn’t change anything.
We were sitting so low in the water.
When we began to row together.
I felt like I had found my friend.
We ignored it.
Until we couldn’t.
And we were still lost.
We are sitting here.
Not closer to the shore.
And now we are both baling it out.
And we are losing.
The first of the water is peeking up and over the top now.
It’s not long now.
But we are baling because it is all we can do.
We are baling because it is a way to pretend that we might get ahead.
I realize something,
As the water pushes the canoe down, toward the mucky bottom.
Maybe we didn’t cancel each other out.
Maybe we each just canceled ourselves.
There is a shore far away.
And so we begin to swim together.