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

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