the first time i navigated white water
my kayak thumped over the walls of river
i paddled hard to keep the bow straight
right angles to the waves so i hit them head-on
water crashed over the hull crashed over my head
pooled in my spray skirt as if i were lake
don’t know how i stayed afloat probably too afraid to tip
call it luck call it naivety
the first time i tipped i was smart-assing 
in the currents of a culvert
run-off rain streaming into the river
up i paddled the current 
peeled around beautifully 
rode the stream to calmer waters
tried for repeat performance – how naive
there is no such thing as repeat performance
no two snowflakes 
no two waves...

a wave is a disturbance 
travelling through time and space
the wave tossed me without hesitation
without regret
had no sympathy, did not care:
disturbances simply
disturb: it is their nature
for the first time i felt fear of the water
the fear small and persistent, a blood clot
that wouldn’t dissolve
embolism travelling the rivers
of my body and lodging




© Marianne Paul 2011