Carrie Jewell "Crossing"
My daughter and I lose the group
since we don’t have the speed to cross
this lake in two inflatable donuts with any grace.
They have dispersed out ahead of us,
a flotilla of sharks and bright pizza slices.
The current sidles toward us, tugging her
away to my left, persistent as it coaxes her to
the other beach, the one we’ve only heard about, but
can faintly see. I keep flapping my hands and yanking
her waist to keep her tethered to my side. She bucks,
raises her voice, wants to float on her own, laughs
when she reverses course with the breeze,
and I feel like Mrs. Robinson watching Elaine leave the
church with Ben, gnashing to protest what’s already
begun. When we get to the tiny island — just a few
rocks, really — everyone is gone, there is no
space for me to stand, we catch our breath,
brace for the long return lap. She is almost seven
and her proud shoulders declare victory over
the snapping turtles, the coffee-colored depths,
the patient pull of waves, the older kids who took
off. We spot her father on the shore, asleep. A friend
with a canoe wants to tow us back, but — enjoying
seeing her mother flail — she refuses for dear life.
Bio: Carrie Jewell lives in Massachusetts, where she has been a high school teacher for 18 years. Her poems have appeared in The Worchester Review, Poor Yorick, and What Rough Beast.