Diane M. Laboda

(after the painting Layered Site by Bill Lewis,
Chelsea River Gallery)

The sail that flattens against the mast
bows new against the wall, held in place
by layers and lines—one entire leg of a race
captured in one image.

The start gun sounds and sailors tack their craft
across the start line and across each other’s bows
feeling the water for the best position,
some caught abaft bear off and hope
to gain back an advantage later.

Flags stand straight downwind, waves flutter
against the bow, caressing the hull until
they lace-wing off the stern.
Captains strive to surf awhile,
aligning with all things wave.

Tacks bearing off to east and west, capture
the route to round the next buoy close by,
man the lines, shift the crew to port,
set the spinnaker, catch a puff,
set the parade of colors in motion, fly.

Layers of reds and oranges backed by
lake blues and shoreline shadows
tell captain Dave that we have the lead,
the right and winning line to the finish
to take the red flag.

Charting a Course

We sail before the wind,
you and I,
you straining at the tiller,
me sitting low, the ballast
sunning, glad for the shared heat.

We find our leaning skiff,
like our friendship in the shallows
teetering in the calm, moving both of us
together for balance, smoothing the ripples,
easing the need for conversation.

Should we choose to enter deeper water
we’d need to reshape our oars,
mute our gray-notes and smooth
our passage to the isle of sisterhood
just across the bay.


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