I am a Boat



Just felt like revisiting this poem in the midst of so much transition:



I am a boat.

Not a Chinese junque. – (my blood is too foreign though I do wish it wasn’t).

Well.. perhaps a gleaming and slippery, “Have a martini”, 40? ode to speed? – (I’d lose the key..).

Maybe that great outboard motorboat we used up at the lake to go bass fishing as the dawn steam rose and we, wee ones still with sleep in our eyes? – (Oh, I did love the control!)

What about a catamaran? Sliding and cutting so deftly through..intent on getting ‘there’ FAST!.. The constant thrill of capsizing the thing?- (Nope).

I could be a giant cargo ship with all the ballast I’d ever need in rough seas.. (No beauty in all that safety and way too much metal. I’m not that fond of metal, anyway).

A folded paper boat adrift on an even pond? – (Not enough substance or staying power).

I will be a canoe.

My own ship carved of a tree so I will remember dry land should I turn toward forgetting.

It will hold one.

Two or three if I so choose.

My family and friends will have helped me carve the thing.

We will have sung songs and toasted it’s doneness before they hand me two paddles and I pause to bow (to them and it) before I step in alone.

I will push off the beach and settle my frame into the curve of the tended wood.

I will not look back.

I am not sad. I will cut the glassy sheen of the lake

And lean into my direction.

I pull the water to me

And let it empty behind.





The rhythm lifts me.

And the work is not.

I am free.

Destination is uninteresting.

I just stay with the impossible beauty.

In raw weather

I huddle in the rain and wind

Sometimes, just yielding to the whim of the lake

Because it is bigger than me.

In the morning with wet and straggly hair

I peek outside my parka.

The way seems clear

Though I do not know where I am.

A loon sets me straight

And my paddle meets the waters.

I sing.
-C. Aten 2011


2 Responses to “I am a Boat”

  1. Jenny on August 17th, 2019

    Suddenly maybe I see. ?
    the boat is the beginning , the choosing , the focus , the start, seems so important , then the new vistas, the pushing out onto less solid water, then the pull and empty which is not work, but also is, but rhythm, and movement and flow . And weather and day and night pass and the boat stays true but is no longer the focus. You are still in the weathered canoe, you are still working but it’s not work , still you but not the same , a you so lightened and so also so tempered that you are not the same and no one who has not set out also can hear the song.

  2. Olga Krasnova on August 20th, 2019

    Brilliant poem, dear Cathy…

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