We patch the gunwales, rain-rotted,
with tape, and test the cane seats.
I fasten my vest, handing you the one
for guests. You glance at the hammock
and bench, at the path to the house
we grew up in, which you left.
I wish I knew your plan.
We never fought. Even now
we work as a team, as if no time
has passed: you take the stern
and steer, I paddle at the bow.
Out of sight of the dock, we settle
with the wind and stop. I watch
a spider cross the thwart.
There’s the beach we swam each summer.
There’s the island we discovered,
collecting rocks and burying worms
in cups we set on the kitchen sill.
Don’t you miss this?
What do you think of us?
I’ve asked before, no need to voice it
anymore. We stow our oars
and let the light waves bear us.
We don’t speak of shore.
* * *
Trash the yellow bales and fat tomatoes
you tore through until you couldn’t move.
Shred the ground and refresh
the patch you reaped too soon,
drunk on sun and easy wind and corn
sugar sucked from stalks. Distill the mash
before first frost. Harrow and smooth
for seeds. This is bread and butter season.
Dara Mandle earned her BA in English from Yale, where she was awarded the Clapp Poetry Prize, and her MFA in poetry from Columbia. Her poems have appeared in Brooklyn Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Harpur Palate, among other journals. Her collaborative chapbook of poems with artist Brece Honeycutt, Tobacco Hour, in which both of these poems first appeared, was published in 2015. She maintains a blog of her work at www.daramandle.com.