June: trees pastel green etched with black
twin themselves across the surface of the glowing lake.
The water, a skin that moves but stays,
pressed down by the sky, presses up on our boat.
I steer us toward landmarks:
glide under a bridge, sidle up to an island.
I slap mosquitoes from her bare shoulder.
“How does it float?” she asks.
I flounder as usual, tell her it has to be made
of something that won’t absorb or leak
and it has to be wide enough.
How then, does the oar slip so easily in
and out of glass and leave drops on my leg?
How does the lake never miss
what we’ve taken from it?
I've always felt water was like skin
to dip your fingers in slowly
the tips magnetize the surface
until you twitch, then it's water again.
Smooth as a window
beyond which strange creatures dart
amid ancient boulders that will never be dry.
Are we floating on water or air? 

Jessica Purdy teaches creative writing online through Southern New Hampshire University.  She leads Poetry Workshops in her community as well.  She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Previously, her poems have appeared in Literary Mama, 'What is Home', (the 2007 Portsmouth Poet Laureate program’s publication:, Ethereal Dances, Analecta, The Beacon Street Review, and Main Street magazine.  She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with her husband and two children.

One of the things my family loves to do together is kayak at Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham, NH.  The day of this poem's inspiration was picture-perfect.  My daughter was 6 years old at the time.  I am often struck by the deeper meaning behind the things she asks.  Her question, as we navigated in our little craft together through the painted water, was the impetus for the poem.




Copyright 2009