Monday, July 18, 2011
She wore her scull upside down on her head like a hat, her hands on the riggers. She rolled it over and laid it down, pulled the oars through the chokes, fastened the gates, and settled her heart. She planted her feet in the stretchers and oared her way out, her back facing forward, her mind on her father’s words: Shoulders to the sky, Lennie. Knees at an angle. Catch and drive and always finish. Feather the blades so you’ll fly. She left her hair loose, a dark burst about her face. She let the breeze into her blouse. She listened to the river, and to what the river had to say. She went and she went, always beginning.
Toward the wirework of the Girard Avenue Bridge. Toward the ghost of John Penn and the animals that had come to town in ’74 to live in their fanciful abodes: the Fox Pens, the Wolf Pens, the Raccoon House, the village for the prairie dogs, the stoned-in pits for bears, the house of birds. It was coming on to four o’clock, and she rowed: oars in, oars out, the commotion of animals up the hill. A hawk, she noticed now, had flown in from the east, its red-tipped wings and tail mirrored in the river’s surface. One of the reflected wings kept breaking apart and resurrecting itself with each of her oar strokes, as if it could attach to the scull its own flight.