My daughter and I paddle identical red kayaks
across the lake. Pulling hard, we slip easily
through the water. Far from either shore
it hits me that my daughter is a young woman,
and suddenly everything is a metaphor for how
short a time we are granted on earth:
the red boats on the blue-black water,
the russet and gold of late summer’s sunburnt grasses,
the empty blue sky. We stop and listen to the stillness.
I say, “It’s Sunday, and here we are
in the church of the out-of-doors.”
Then I wish I’d had the sense to stay quiet.
That’s the trick in life — learning to leave well enough alone.

Our boats drift north to where the chirring
of grasshoppers reaches us from the rocky hills.
A clap of thunder beyond those hills. How well sound
travels over water. I want to say just the right thing,
something stronger and truer than a lame I love you.
I want my daughter to know that, through her, I live
a life that was closed to me before. I paddle up
beside her, lean out from the boat, and touch
her hand. I start to speak, then stop.