in the kayak,
I am alone
floating next to the canoe
carrying my friend and his girlfriend.

It’s blessedly quiet,

until the girlfriend begins to chatter
at me from the bow of my friend’s canoe.

Her paddle lays across her lap.

I am not really listening,

and then I just can’t hear her
because as we near some shallow rapids
the water’s volume adds her voice to its roar 
that is so loud now I can laugh unheard aloud
when my friend, who’s paddling earnestly
to avoid an approaching tangle of roots,
shouts “Mandy, paddle!”

Past rocks and roots,
the water deepens and flattens.
His words blend with the babble of water behind us,
but the scolding drifts back to me on the air.

I dip my paddle on both sides to slow down,
buoyant in my solitude.