You curse at me,
but I’m treading water
and trailing
my fingers over a knot
rising now
where the lip
of our canoe
came down
on my shoulder.
I’m trying to tell you
I put my oar down
how you said I should,
in case I thought we were going
but now you’re yelling—
I didn’t do it right,
and sunglasses, sandwiches, beer cans
bob around us in the muddy water.
I have never done this before
and I don’t understand
what you’re asking of me.
We righted things,
found smoother water,
I saw turtles jetting beneath ledges of rock
in a place so deep
I knew I couldn’t touch bottom.
Tonight, my body will rock back and forth,
skin and bones strapped
to nerves remembering
how water moves and moves,
how a canoe can tip, just so,
and we both fall out.


Frannie McMillan’s poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Coachella Review, K’in Literary Journal, Broken Bridge, and others. She is currently at work on her first chapbook, You Ain’t By Yourself.

Frannie enjoys throwing spontaneous dinner parties, exploring historic sites with her husband, doting on her three small children, and pretending that everything in her life is going totally according to plan while stuff explodes in the background.

She serves her community and builds her faith alongside others at Staples Mill Road Baptist Church, and connects young people with books as a high school librarian. You can follow her at




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