Saturday, March 17, 2012

Notebook: Sailing with No Wind

Another poem from my final portfolio. This was one of my favorite ones to work on because it's based on a true experience from the summer of 2010, the summer before college. It was a great time and I hope this poem really captures that story. Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Sailing with No Wind

We glide across the lake,
the water green from bubbling algae
and wandering strands of duckweed
as if mustached alligators were swimming about.
We race our friends’ canoes,
taking turns standing at the bow,
pretending to be Kate Winslet
though no one wanted to be Leo.

At dinner time, the wind dies.
We do our best, try every sailor’s trick
zig-zagging and criss-crossing,
mustering all the wind we can,
mighty breeze or little gale.
The low, white sun beats its goodbye into our backs,
our shirts clinging like moss dangling from turtle shells.

My toes play the piano on the water’s surface,
my eyes lingering on the stony shore –
if only I could reach out to grasp the willow branches
hanging down like life lines.
Tom jokes about getting out to push.

Ryan jumps in,
his lean, lanky runner’s frame skinny enough to float,
the brim of his captain’s hat dripping water down his nose.
He kicks and kicks.
The shore still a thousand leagues off.
Tom jumps in too.
His head a bobbing ball of fire, tossed in the waves,
swims toward shore.

Our sail, a tattered, old thing, catches a small westerly wind
with enough force to pull me to my feet. Ryan left behind.
I stand the way surfers do – one hand on the rudder,
the other grasping the sail. The wind dies.

We drift. I get out to push this time,
but my muscles are like dead fish, sopping wet –
we lie there in the sinking sunlight,
thinking about our friends,
lounging on the beach,
laughing around a campfire,
eating burgers and chips,
juicy watermelons.
The bastards.
Still, the wind is dead.

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