Is there one with a pocket for my Charleston Chew?
It’s still hard from the counselors’ freezer, where I hid it
without their permission, the long afternoon. I know there’s no food
allowed in the boathouse. I know how you can’t take it with you. I know
I’ll be wearing the jacket for safety. And I know I will willingly
enter a “death roll” today. It’s my life, it’s July, it’s the Ocean State YMCA!
They’ll be making me wear this old thing, anyway.
–––And I chose the wrong one. The dark orange seemed safer than splotchy,
but splotchy turned out to mean drying, while darkness meant wet,
an ominous wetness. Its wearer has already sunk, during period three,
and now I’m its wearer. And nothing is as I was told it would be: my father,
sailmaster from ’79 until May ’83, had his Skipper’s Plaque hung too high for me to see
from my seat in the damp boathouse.
The skipper’s a college kid, Paul, and he’s sketching
the eight points of sail in erasable marker, teaching us all how to drown: irons,
close reach, beam reach, broad reach, run. My father described once
a memory. Capsizing Day, maybe ’80, before he got skipper, and after
the boats had laid down in the water all morning, with none of the heaviness, none
of the unanswerable wind that I feel in 2014, the mess
served a deviled egg special for lunch, before archery started: a civilized food,
a food you can’t turn upside down, with a slippery hull and its insides scooped out,
mixed with a pickling thing, with sea salt and mustard and miracle whip,
and finally taken back over its rim. Can’t we cancel the day? Can’t the boat, as the egg takes the yolk, though it’s
after and saltier, take me back in?