Knifing down the river, the polished sculls
cut solid water into blue-gray flashing,

the coxswain's bark moves eight thick arms as one;
the boat speeds on like water streaming

from a pitcher without a catch or gulp,
glides across the surface of the water,

or so I tell myself, wanting clear borders
between air and water, and all other

elements that ought to stay apart,
like oil and water, or your coming

death and the life you're holding at an arm's
length. Under this hard sun, the water seems

so thick that you could walk across the river,
your slow steps never breaking its bright face

and I want to call to you, to say
that water holds us as we walk through air

but with every phone call your breathing's
harsher, more exhausted, as if air's

grown heavier than water, as if both
elements agreed to merge, exchange, betray.