“Let’s go canoeing, you and I,” you say,
handing me an oar.
You give yourself the big blue one and I get the one-ended oar.
Where is its twin? I wonder.
Is it floating out there, in the cool green beyond,
with the heavy end dipping in the water?
Or is it underneath a pile of junk, silently awaiting discovery?
Or maybe even my paddle was just created this way, lopsided,
knowing it’s missing something but not knowing what.
We paddle, unsteadily at first but gaining speed,
barreling through the water,
leaving V’s in our wake. The sky is navy dark,
tinged with orange at the bottoms.
A gaggle of geese stare at us reproachfully, goslings tucked into their feathers.
As soon as we pass by, they flap their wings,
splashing, and their young take off behind them,
already following in their footsteps.
The older ones bark at the youngsters, honking in a language I can’t understand.
We slip through a patch of lilies,
our boat hissing and purring as I grab one and pull it out of the water.
Its roots dangle at the bottom,
scrabbling furiously at the muck, almost desperately.
The white beauty opens its petals,
the orange inside shaking like jelly with
every movement, trembling.
I bring it up to my nose, and the sweet,
innocent smell greets me.
Smiling, I throw it back into the water
among the lily pads,
and we row off,
stars dripping from our oars.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.