Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Paddle The Moon

The water's blackish dark,
like molten ink
and it moves rapidly under my board.
Carried away from the parade,
the parade of glow sticks behind me
of friends and strangers,
our trying to illuminate ourselves,
our trying to stay together...not working!
Names called out...no answer!
Body shapes highlighted by the full moon,
whose shyness makes random,
sneak appearances.
Shapes unrecognizable
as we paddle together and seemingly?

So much dark!
More than I expected
for this full moon tour down river,
eight miles past condo's, mansions
lit up like Christmas but 'summer style',
festive and fun voices carry across the water,
voices on shore surprised and thrilled to see
our unexpected parade of 'water walkers!'

Plugged personally into music,
I quietly, collect,
in my "poem catcher net"
the words I will use later
to describe this ...
the wavering ribbons of light
like rungless ladders to sky
framed shorelines,
in eerie, or is it mystical, magical...?
yes, mystical... I decide.
A float through time and space
here and everywhere else.
This river of dreams and memories.
Where all my water moments
gather and collect along the edges,
in applauding reverence
for the distance traveled?
The metaphoric distance traveled!
With friends, I can't find in the dark
and strangers I don't know in the light!

Anita? Anita? Is that you?
My friend, the one we call Bio Nic (Bionic)
my hero, who is pure competitive muscle!
and usually tries
to beat me (and everyone else) to the finish!
No answer!
I am alone, sort of!

The moon plays peek a boo
from behind dappled clouds,
a dotted trail of glow sticks
follow at a distance
some voices, muted, playful,
calling out also!

At home on this dark fluid path
with only fiberglass under foot
unworried that I might slip off
with a minimal splash
and someone might say
Pam? Is that You? Pam?
Well, I AM wearing a life jacket
due to the insistence of my very caring friends
that sounded something like this,
"geez, if ANYONE should wear one
it should be YOU!"
Hmm? Thanks!
(tho it is unlikely there would be
"minimal splashing"
as I tend to make quite a scene
when I end up in the water,
But I was safe
and more importantly...
at home on the water.

When did the lake,
the river become my life?
My way of being,
this large scary swallowing blue element...?
(tonight, blackish)
Feared life long, even in dreams
always drowning, never floating,
never sure footed,
or capable of keeping my head
above the surface
Never knowing how to make peace with her!
When indeed?

The "you'll swim" off the dock education,
the forced expectation
of "come on, it's fun",
I couldn't embrace,
not at six, not at ten, not at twenty.
Unusual, as I am pretty sure,
it is a requirement
when you grow up in the land
of Ten Thousand Lakes.

Yet, my recollections were terror based,
near drownings, (my sister, maybe me?)
Leeches and suck rings left on skin,
a lot of other things that floated and swam
and shouldn't have been allowed to!
Gallons of unpleasantly inhaled water,
due to a tumble or face plant,
always the panic when reaching toes
couldn't find the bottom.
All this while learning to reluctantly,
canoe, ski, sail and kayak,
cause that's what you do when you
grow up in a place that has more water
than ground, to travel on!

But honestly,
and I hate to admit it...
I never learned to swim, to tread,
never learned to float...
not metaphorically or literarily.

When I moved to Arizona in my thirties,
that concern was over!
No more big creepy lakes
with bottomless bottoms
leeches or loons
(the latter, I missed...
I really liked those loons!)
It was all about pools now!
And pools had edges and ledges
to hold on to.
And chlorine that did not welcome
any floating things
that didn't belong!

But there was one week end in Havasu

(the lake famed desert town,

that would one day be 'home')

on the back of a jet ski,

holding on to a reckless friend,

who found fun in a three sixty whip,

that sent me into the air and then water.

Coming up gasping, I remembered,...

"oh thats right, I am not a water person",

My unresolved water issues?

Yes, they had followed me to Arizona!

Seems, I had just ignored them!

It is has taken ten years,

for this great body of blue,

to become my ever consistent lover

and playmate,

the one who calls my name,

every morning with the birds,

"come, join me,"

and most the time I do!

Happiest when I am on her,

not so much IN,

but cruising the surface,

on anything that floats.

Since then, I have paddled oceans,

raced outrigger canoes,

gone unexpectedly upside down

and sputtering,

to be challenged beyond

my imagined abilities,

and nearly drowning a time or three,

(well...according to me.)

Last summer, I learned to float!

because metaphorically?

I had to!

Discovering what it meant to belong

to the river,

to go along with the flow,

to not fight or struggle

against the current.

It was a surprise to me,

muffled and womb like,

the nearest thing to flight

I had ever known!

And tonight?

I was a stand up paddle boarder

on a river in moonlight,

alone and not!

Safe somehow and at home

on a drifting platform

carried along a inky current,

under an ashen moon,

chasing poems downstream,

knowing friends follow...

from behind

and...my peace has been made!

This is where the journey began.

This is where the journey ends!

Pam Piper Rain

Thanks to John Burns

Watch for the next tour

of moonlight paddle.