bifurcation point


on realizing a moment was more important than you thought.

the kayaks go along like waterfowl, 
red and orange bodies gliding 
almost effortlessly, punctuated 
by the rhythmic dip of yellow paddles
beneath the surface, pulling them
smoothly downriver. the ripples
they leave in their wake glint
like iridescent sequins in the sun.

we both know how ripples grow.
they reach me as I watch 
from the shore, and I think—

an instant of falling, then cold water
closing like a wound over your head. your body 
drifting facedown with the ice floes.

but that is not what happened.
that is not where you are.

you are at home, and tonight 
I will remind you of the time
we went kayaking, almost 
three years ago, and you 
will smile— happy, alive— 
and I will not remind you
how strong the current was that day,
how it made you hesitate that winter.

and I will not tell you
about how grateful I am that we went,
about how close we were to disaster.