At morning, the trees ripple like anemones,
and we move with a kind of lightness, collecting food
in plastic bags, glazing our skins with lotion,
drive out along the shore of the lake,
where dull boats like gulls, settle,
papery in the lacustrine afternoon.
At the launch, by the beach-ball-colored tourists,
we stand ankle-deep in water, choosing kayaks,
and I watch as you grind from the shore
in a green cap and persimmon vest,
winding your paddle below the bridge
and into the tangle of trees and water.
Moving there, weightless, you point at a swan
transfixed in the shade of cattails.
Lilies appear and then recede.
Dragonflies skip and chin along the water.
And suddenly our waddling boats bump an island,
and we climb the sand and laddering roots to the crest,
preparing seats of bark
sharded from a lightning-shattered oak.
The tumid sun smothers in a high haze.
We gnaw jerky, trade bananas, drinks.
Young drakes nudge toward great
platters of water lilies, then vanish.
Light candies the leaves of distant cottonwoods.
And then the island, hip-deep in the water, forgets itself.
An ageless breeze wanders like a ghost over the waves.
It would not be an earth we live upon now,
given only the great blue heron, fused to its mirror,
or the wedges of small fish wavering below darting skates.
But it is an earth we live upon—
a cause too soon swallowed by the sun,
and that sun by other suns,
and all the great-turning spirals of indifferent stars,
blooming and withering, caught on the wheel
of life and death, that is our coming to know each other.
And then we straggle back to our patient boats
our paddles licking, tasting the water.
We move like unweighted, nudging birds
toward the sound of tourists and family laughter,
to the litter of bouncing color on bare sand
back to the noise of the world,
to our bodies that are ahead of us
and the body that we must leave,
like the foot before
and the foot behind