Water laps the sides of Cold Bottom, my family’s aluminum canoe, as I dip my paddle into Holland Creek and navigate her shallows to nestle against the logjam where turtles spend hours basking in the sun. I want to let them know. I want to tell them.
I want to be near them.
A school of minnows lingers in the shadows of undulating underwater foliage. Their little bodies shimmer in the shadows, flickering in endless currents. Tiny lily pads remind me of rusted round sunglasses, and I sing John Lennon’s Imagine, a concert for unsuspecting minnows. When I finish singing, loss runs its current through my solar plexus.
—Imagine there’s no people
or minnows, or turtles, or woodpeckers
or ravens, or ponderosa pine—
Halfway out into the logjam, three turtles rise, one after another. We sit and blink for a while, listening to the woodpecker’s tap tap tapping, and then, I thank them.
I thank them for inspiring stories of wisdom.
I thank them for their shells.
I thank them for their flesh.
I thank them for their blinking turtle eyes.
I thank them for being here year after year,
for grounding me on this planet.
And then I tell them that in three days,
everything we know will vanish.
Cold Bottom looks like a giant minnow from below, and the turtles think we are one. We will spend the end together until our home is gone.
Brenda Warren 2012
This piece was written for the Trifecta challenge, Trifextra: Week 23. Here it is:
For the weekend challenge, we’re playing the ambiguity card again and leaving interpretation up to you. Give us 33-333 words with this as your inspiration:
The world will end in three days.
Fantastic entry Brenda! You are making a strong bid! Best of luck to you, Ma’am!
I love “Cold Bottom”. And being a turtle. *blink*
Brenda, this prose poem is absolutely magical. It has my vote for the Trifecta prize.
Thank you, Viv. Your kind words mean a great deal….this poem strikes a deep chord for me, it’s nice to have a positive reception.
and your prose is poetic; love the tone and esp. this line- ‘When I finish singing, loss runs its current through my solar plexus.’
I love the lyrical quality to this piece, as well as the content sentiment you exude even in the event of the world ending. Beautifully done!
I loved your beautiful nature imagery here. I just tucked my children in to a story about sea turtles, and so this piece was a perfect accompaniment. I loved reading in the comments that the canoe and turtles are non-fiction. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful, Brenda. Not a bad way to go, for me. 🙂
I also like the name of the canoe. The calm, thankful introspection you depicted in this end of the world piece is much more appealing than the chaos and doom that is often depicted in apocolypse scenes.
Thank you, Janna. I visited my parents this weekend, and sat in Cold Bottom near the logjam, imagining this piece. It was peaceful and quiet aside from the sounds of the creek, a woodpecker, and a couple of ravens calling back and forth.
A good way to spend the last days… I like that the canoe is called Cold Bottom. Interesting take on the prompt!
Thanks, Libby. We stenciled Cold Bottom on the canoe as a family when I was probably 8 years old (I’m 50 now). Cold Bottom has been in my life forever.
This is really beautiful. I love the thought of singing ‘Imagine’ to all of nature!
Thank you, Karen.