I lay here—bobbing atop the cool Shagawa water. The timber boards, worn by summer storms and idle winter frost, hold me in buoyancy above the gentle lap of waves. My bare back caresses the rough planks of the raft like a newborn in oaken cradle. With my arms and legs outstretched, rays of sweet honey kiss my tan skin as I meet the sun, truly, for the first time.
As the seconds, minutes, moments pass, little drops of water slowly glide across my chest and arms in little rivers—they hope to find the lake from which they came. I rest my eyes to inhale the scent of a shoreline forest. Exhale. My liquid armor drips back between the boards, back to the enchanting water.
The gentle drip alerts a walleye below and his luminous scales flash and dart with no apparent direction. He dances beneath me in sporadic feeling, and, though hidden with the deep, I imagine and know he’s there. With unexpected joy he surges towards the mixing waves. A playful splash flutters out over the rolling water. Quickly, my eyes sparkle to life and I raise myself, leaning on my palms in lazy posture. I scan the lake, my skin now dry, and though the shimmering scales shy from view, I smile gently with my earthly eyes.
I am human. I don’t live underwater. I don’t breathe through gills and I don’t eat bugs. For a walleye, danger bubbles from every sandy bottom, every rock, every sound. Countless jigs and lures lay camouflaged and desperate in their sinister attempts to strip the walleye of life. With shadows in constant scorn against him, his world—my lake—might as well be barren, empty and desolate. But it’s not.
As this final thought floods my mind, I rise to stand on callused feet. Taller now, I squint my earthly eyes for a glimpse of him. Smiling, I sweep my feet backwards over the rough planks. I hug my naked torso and my heart beats in sporadic feeling. With unexpected joy, I rush to the raft’s edge—the edge of my sanctuary. Arms raised and pointed as an arrowhead towards the sun, I close my eyes and surge into the air. For a brief moment, I am not human, but a fish. I splash as a playful walleye, blissfully unaware of the future.