Rouge Canoe


Just the two of us, boy and girl,
out in the rouge canoe,
mid-bay, smooth as a pressed shirt,
yet current insistent at our hull,
when, impetuously, you throw
both paddles overboard,
and grin at me as they drift away,
Now, how will we ever get back?

At your rarest, I think,
as dread sets in.
The shore, maybe a mile, maybe a little less,
and I recall—as I usually do when in open water—
Breughel’s Icarus, its boy plunging,
and Auden’s later limning
of our obliviousness to all fates,
save our own.

But it’s not that serious, I know.
I’ll dive in to retrieve the paddles
or we’ll hail a boater who will tow us in,
and once ashore, you’ll say:
I’m sure glad we had lifejackets,
but I know you’ll later paint a picture for your friends
of something that happened out there,
not quite a drowning,
an incident, nonetheless,
requiring a boy’s fall,
witnesses or not.

Previously published in Off the Coast.

Brad Rose was raised in California, about a mile from where the Apollo moon capsules were built, and about 240,000 miles from the moon. Links to his poetry and miniature fiction can be found at:

Object(s) to bring back to life: “I would like to bring back, indeed, to revivify, the future, which I once innocently, although mistakenly, thought would go on forever.”