The Orange Rowboat

A Poem by Robert H. Demaree Jr

Morning light reaches through the pines
And bathes the end of the dock
In a distant August warmth.
I watch my daughter and her son
Set out in the orange rowboat
Against a deep blue ripple,
Oars upturned, catching the sun’s glint.
I hear her tell him to sit in the middle.

Things have changed here some:
Cabins replaced by trophy homes,
Kayaks by jet skis.
We have kept the orange rowboat.
Late in life my mother
Loved to ride along the shore;
Once she tipped us over,
Reaching for the dock, and I
Pulled her, frail bird, from the water.

This afternoon we go to a funeral,
A friend of my mother’s,
The last of their generation on the pond.
A hundred years of living are recalled,
The comfortable words spoken
By people who had not known her.
I wanted to tell her son:
I know where death’s sting is.
We paused on the steps, the limo waiting:
They were a couple of tough old girls,
Is what I told him.

“The Orange Rowboat” first appeared in Color Wheel, Spring 2007

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