By Laurie Klein

December 13, 2021


We share the rowboat. I’m nearly nine; he could be 100, my uncle, sole survivor of his platoon.

“Losing it,” neighbors say, and “Claims he hears Voices.”

I say a person can hold back some things, by naming others. He holds up an oar: “Sleeve, collar, blade,” he says, pointing them out. “See how it sits in the rowlock? That prevents slippage.” Then, with a wink: “So the guy manning the oars keeps his grip.”

All I know is, a boat the color of dirty nickels flies like one of his arrows unzipping the atmosphere. Each stroke he makes leaves a swirly hole in the lake, the way drains suck the bathwater down and down. How far below us does empty go?

“I’ve got you,” he says, as if he can hear the voice in my noggin.

We stop beneath Aeppler’s weeping willow, a grass skirt with roots on the edge of my world—right next to the dam, which he calls a spillway. Do you know where happiness starts? One hushed glide beneath willowy petticoats, where sprinkles of light sieve over our skin, where reflections swarm leaves overhead like fireflies. I start to guess his secret summertime name, which today might be Merlin, but the wind interrupts, knocks us sideways into the current that’s running straight for that awful blue roar like a storm where everything crashes and falls while he rows and rows to escape the dam, knuckles slick with spray, his gaze wild. So, this is slippage.


Laurie Klein is the author of a poetry collection and a chapbook. Her essays have appeared in Brevity, New Letters, Tiferet, and elsewhere. She misses her uncle.


Picture by Pixabay courtesy of Pexels 

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow