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Tipping

By Kiko Sato

I rise early. Mist hangs over the lake. I stand on the porch, barefoot and shivering, a ghost woman among ghost trees. By noon the sky will be a painful blue and the air will shimmer with heat.

***

I place green tea powder into a bowl and whisk it with hot water. I raise the bowl to admire its texture in the pale light. If you were here, you would drink first. I take a sip and hold it on my tongue. The tea is bitter, like grief, like being left. I empty the bowl.

***

I walk down to the water. A motorboat races by. The wake breaks against the dock and rocks the canoe tied there.

You smiled like a fiend when you bought that canoe.

I could untie it and let it float away. I could fill it with stones. Instead, I step carefully inside and push off.

***

At first I paddle in circles, but then I get the hang of it.

It’s nice to be in the stern. I always sat in front and let you steer.

***

My palms burn and my arms are sore. I dip my hands in the water and splash my face. The canoe follows my movements like a puppy.

You used to rock this boat to make me scream. I was afraid of tipping over.

I paddle back to shore. In the shallows, I rock the canoe. I capsize it. I spill into the cold, clear water, then find my footing and stand, streaming.

It’s not so bad tipping over. It’s not the worst thing that can happen.

***

I walk back to the house dripping.

I will pack the photographs of you in a box. I will seal them away with the work gloves you left that hold the shape of your hand. I will shed you like a skin and become someone new.

***

I will keep the canoe.

 

Kiko Sato lives near water.. She loves black licorice. She cannot spell. Her last work for VerbSap was When She Falls.

 

Photo courtesy of Freeimages.co.uk.

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