At 43, I explore kayaking with a new love.
Of course I had to look up what it meant when a white egret
It kept perching just in front of our kayak,
looking playfully back at us,
leading us down the river like it wanted to show us something.
I learned these creatures come to those who find themselves in
the in-between places.
They are a symbol of purity, long life, strength, endurance.
They mean protection.
They are pious and pure.
It symbolizes marital harmony. (My jaw clenches at that one.)
The white egret's ability to thrive on such slender legs
will teach you independence
and never to be weak or vulnerable in front of someone else.
(These seem like my own half-drunk words. This is terrible symbolism.)
Probably, humans have fed the egret.
Probably, it lingers by us because it wants food.
Like loving you, this is easy. The river does the work.
We flow, I paddle now and then, you steer.
Sometimes there’s a little rush, but it’s nothing we can’t get over.
You film a heron with a fish. I paddle wide.
I drink long gulps of water with my eyes closed
knowing you’re behind me, the blue sky limitless in front of me.
This is nothing like the rapids of my youth,
the great, crashing waterfalls no one should have attempted to go over
where I’d stand up at the bottom
alone, examining the wreck,
refusing to be drowned,
forgetting the reason I came in the first place
in the face of so much damage.
So here, at middle age, my heart full of you,
I float along, warm, safe, and suspicious.