James Davis May
We were about to die, but it seemed so funny:
the sudden storm cloud unfolding above us
as if we were a pair of cartoon characters
having a bad day. We could see the beach,
our empty chairs, and the other couples
holding drinks and each other’s hands,
while for each stroke shoreward, the sea
(the wind or the waves or both?) pushed
our rented kayak two feet seaward. You knew
my hockey-shattered shoulder weakened us
in one direction. I knew that pain
was better than drowning. Ten years later
you ask what I’d say to the couple we were
in those first years of debt, lost jobs,
and the baby we almost lost but didn’t.
I tell you I’d want to say, “Calm down, kids,
don’t worry so much.” But I take that back.
Think of the storm and how our fear made us
paddle harder and taught us to do it together.