Kayak – Katherine Gotthardt

Something about water brings me back.
Back to the beach home,
the way we’d gather before clouds could,
fishhooks and minnows at hand,
those little sacrifices nature makes for us
so we might understand life’s circle.
And yes, early blackness, August air
wrapped around our bare shoulders
like a damp comforter, warming
but warning us all at once,
that deep encouragement to get moving
before extreme weather took the day.
And yes, the fish we caught we ate, Dad first
peeling off years measured in gills and scales,
Mom frying filets in the same stainless pan
she’d used since we were children.

And then, sometimes, the ocean had a voice,
waterfront a silk sheet, yellow kayak by the dock,
sky hinting at orange, paddles already in the boat.
How could we not venture into its insistence,
explore the hush of days gone by too fast,
remembrances of last night’s laughter,
children making a mess of the den?
And somehow in the morning, the call of carp,
plopping in and out of ripples they themselves created,
the first croak of blue heron celebrating itself
like the final, surviving dinosaur.
We pull the kayak into shallow water,
step in, find our balance like a miracle, push off.

It is the moistness that seems to do it,
bring tears as we navigate low tide,
salt pouring into our pores,
the sweat of the nudging wind.
It breaks the barriers between Earth and skin,
while everything – yes everything – whispers,
“This is what you were made for!”
Slowly we dip our oars into the world,
remembering to favor neither right nor left,
part the bay’s water in the center.
We move away from enduring shore,
reminding ourselves it will always be there.
We launch again into introspective dawn.
Paddling toward sunrise.

Katherine GotthardtAward-winning poet and author Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed. hails from Northern Virginia where she works as a writer and volunteers. Of her nine books, Get Happy, Dammit earned a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Writers Association, and A Crane Named Steve was an Amazon bestselling new release. Gotthardt is a founding member and current president of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, and a member of Poetry Society of Virginia. She serves on the board of Rise Phoenix Rise, Inc. Learn more at http://www.KatherineGotthardt.com.