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An oil painting of two boys in a canoe on a lake. The painting is in an impressionistic style where the colors blend together and the boys in the canoe do not have distinguishable faces. The boy at the bow of the canoe is wearing a white shirt and blue shorts and the boy at the stern is wearing a red shirt and blue shorts. Both boys are pale and have their paddles out of the water, as if they are resting and taking in their surroundings. The canoe is a shade of reddish brown that blends into the water, which is mixed with shades of pastel green, blue, periwinkle, and pink. There are several lilly pads with white flowers in the lake. The background is a pine forest in a swampy green shade and the sky is a murky white.
Two Boys in a Canoe by Holden Willard, 2021, oil on canvas, 58″X54″


By Dana Blatte

After Richard Siken

I ask my friend if there are any bodies

dead in the water. No, he says,

                        and if there were we wouldn’t see them.

                                        They’d sink to the silt at the bottom of the lake.


Keep rowing, he says, we’re almost to shore so                 I kiss

                                him, the salt-spray of him. I’m wearing a red T-shirt

and it clings to him, to his neck, to his hand, to the yoke dividing

the boat in half.

                We come up for air. Too soon.

Hi, I say. The water is psychedelic,

like maybe we’ve been on drugs this whole time.                 The lily pads

                                                flush gold, the trees burnt umber, our wake

        dark purple like a bruise. Hi, he says, pulling

                                                                        the oar onto his lap.

                                He keeps rowing. I keep rowing. I prod

a slab of driftwood with my oar and it feels like a body. Like I have snagged

                                                a small death. A boy facedown.

I want to turn the wood over, feel its face, hold it up to mine.                 I wonder

                                if it matches.                 If I am a boy drowning

                and this is why my friend is silent. Why I kissed him

                                                                and tasted two kinds of salt.

        I’m sorry, I say as we bruise the shore. He was right; we were almost

there. The canoe rocks

as he jumps out. His sneakers sink into the mud,

but I don’t see them.

I am quiet. I’m so sorry.

About the Poet

Dana Blatte is a seventeen-year-old from Sharon, Massachusetts. Her work is published in Fractured Lit, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Shore, and more. Besides writing, she likes digital illustration, fairytales, bedroom pop, and honey almond butter. Find her on Twitter @infflorescence.

About the Artist

From Holden Willard: I’m interested in people, the way we act, how we develop relationships, how we cope and see ourselves through other lives. Considerations of the humanistic character, such as someone’s gaze and their mannerisms… these are essential for me to capture and interpret. Works that I am interested in all have a personal connection – a deep sense of realization… and a “point” that gives it that divergence from the natural world. Upon this realization I saw that my up-bringing in Maine could be a point of divergence for me. It’s potential for stark, quiet, bold paintings led me to see that the past and present can create a dialogue about my fears surrounding the future. This body of work that I have been creating serves to be indicative of that history, pulling from my personal collection of imagery, and taking reference from life. As an observational artist, when I approach a piece of work I am mainly looking to understand and re-evaluate. Paintings remain in flux with no particular attention to certain parts, and the whole picture frame is taken in consideration. The paintings build an attention to surface, its history and change is analogous to how I perceive people as perception is a constant struggle for me. As I have learned, there is a necessity to remain responsive and to be open to natural outcomes. As long as I remain conscious of this, a visual statement is reached – that is what leads to breakthroughs and ultimately deeper, more understood work.