Degrees of Perfection 


Rowing on the Charles.  



I want to remember this moment forever: the sun setting over water like melting icecream dripping down the side of the perfect cone. It is so sweet to be here as the wind blows through the tiny hairs abandoned by my ponytail holder and left to dangle there at the nape of my neck. My legs take off underneath me to this rhythm that takes us further. Our bodies fold up, wind up, and boom — extend out again. Like this, we row along. Bridge to bridge, wall to wall, and around each bend… I would do anything to go a little further. 

Names for family members escape my lips as I cry out! Blood pumps through my veins to the heart which confuses the connection of our bodies with connections made by blood. But it is not blood which binds us. It is every breath, every inch of space where we move and which we move. I’m falling in love with this moment and I’m ever closer to pure bliss. This rhythm, this speed, this moment is everlasting. 

Moments like these are frightening. When the sky is so blue, air is crisp, and sunglasses shade the face from the heat and intensity of the sun, I fear the end. Perfection is bliss and too perfect strikes primal fear in my brain. My brain which no longer has control of my body. My body whose limbs latch on to tiny bodies crammed into one long boat. The sound of movement creeps into muscle memory. Legs remember – arms, and ears. Each stroke like the sound of doors that open and close, clocks that ding and dong. Rowing backwards, moving forwards… this paradox is my ecstasy. 

Someone once told me the story of a species of bees. Bees who were constantly threatened by wasps who would attack their hive. Bees who died at one-hundred-two degrees. Wasps who died at one- hundred-one. In an attack, the bees would flap their wings to reach one degree before death and the hive would prevail. Wings would slow to some cadence some bee would set as they saved themselves and each other. Wings beat like one single organ. One degree before death. One more sunset to paint the sky red before we can’t go on any longer! But these sunsets take my breath away and each time the sun goes down forever, I long to see it again. These perfect moments melt into perfect endings to perfect days. There is no running, no hiding, and all I can do is hold on tight while we float – not fly – far, far away in quest of perfection.  


Abigail Koerner ( writes short fiction, but when she isn’t, she’s rowing on the Charles with the Lightweight Women’s rowing team – an epic group of amazing women.