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Jaime Speed

The boat

He jumps off the boat with a splash

that isn’t returned, it must’ve taken a minute

or longer before we realized, our hearts like boom

boxes, no spare batteries, panic

spreading itself on our faces like butter

on scorched toast, and I think not a sunny day

like this, clear horizons aren’t right for tragedy

but her face is full of fright, the edge

of her eyelids hold her tears, like we are

just specks on water, I want to comfort her,

but there are no ripples here, nothing more

than everything we will ever be, in this moment

when we hear tapping below the boat we know

we’ve been had, feigning our anger that peels

into giggles like this old topside paint

when he finally emerges over the hull,

hair wet, smile like the sun, still ripe as an orange

fire in our sky, it never darkens, at night

we roast marshmallows on sticks

and tell our secrets to the moon, knowing she’ll hold tight

to all our dreams, come morning

we pack up without a thought

of never coming back, we couldn’t predict

the prophesies we left at the tops of trees

we climbed together, or if they’re still there

we’ll never know, when is it the right time

to get back in the water now

that she lives in skies, but I can’t believe that

she’s actually gone forever, I still feel her

little hand in mine, getting back into the boat

alone, the dread of return

is a lump of ash in my throat

I sail out to the middle of the lake, dropping

anchor, I wait in the burn of afternoon

I don’t move my hands all day, I can’t let go

the way night does, re-born in the wet,

my ear pressed to the deck, waiting

for laughter to start up again


Jaime Speed (she/her) has been published in The Rat’s Ass Review, Hobo Camp Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Psaltery & Lyre, Channel, New Feathers Anthology, The Wild Word, Eunoia Review, Flora Fiction, Neologism Poetry Journal, The Pine Cone Review, and Literary Mama, along with numerous others journals, collections, and anthologies. Her prose poetry was selected for Best Small Fictions 2021 by Sonder Press. You can find her poetry hung up in downtown Saskatoon as part of the Kindness – acts of project, supported by the City of Saskatoon, Downtown Saskatoon and the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada.


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