We Are in a Rowboat

– Matt Daly

Audio Poem

I am hard at the oars, sweaty, hands blistered
and frankly a little tired of doing all the work
while you sit at ease at the back of the boat

face lifted, anticipating the sunrise over the moraine.
I row us toward the shadowed side of the lake
toward the road, motorhomes hissing along there.

You have not said a word since we left the shore.
I have also not spoken so it still may be neither
of us is annoyed by our differences, or our route

across, or our chosen method of travel. Perhaps
we are enjoying this little journey together
to nowhere significant that is more work for one of us

than the other. The stagnant little pool of splash-water
soaking my shoes is not soaking your shoes
but that does not bother me since I have worked

up enough warmth by rowing that the wind
on my soggy feet is not as cold as it might be
on yours. We see a ranger in a metal canoe

and although we do not say anything or otherwise
show our feelings, we both hope he does not
paddle himself, with his crisp little J stroke

up to check our permit like he has systematically
checked all the anchored motorboats pinned
to the lakebed. We never bother with permits

you and I. Your eyes close as the ranger paddles
past, waves, and I think how I want what belongs
here – the fish that turn red as leaves, the leaves

that fall and run down the river – to be permitted
even the silence between us, your ease while I pull
us with what strength I have toward the inlet

that quiet place you like where the river pours in.

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