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Learning to Sail at 57 on Father's Day


My tiller arm is achy. I have a hard time overriding
instinct. He says pick a landmark if the wind is confusing.
Having said that is a phrase I like. The water: froth
on navy-gray marble but churning liquid. I think
"l" sounds. He says the sea is forgiving. Or is it the wind?

He says make smaller adjustments. I made pan-seared salmon
and couscous, which got cold as he took a call from the first-
born. Yesterday's scripture was the Prodigal Son. I put on
the good brother's robe of resentment. He labels each
leftover. The kitchen table is older than I am. Good little

brother told me steering by land is just boating—to sail
you have to get the hang of the wind. It's only too late
for something if you decide it is, and I do. We're tacking
back now, which means the long way, with lots of angles.
Later, we'll take a drive in the hybrid. A fox will dart out

from lawn of luxury to seaside scrub—and as soon as
I think this in words, it will enlarge. Dad is our cranky
centerboard in his ratty rubber boots. The ocean's new
cut-through threatens houses belonging to millionaires,
of which there are many. But so much there is that can't

be owned. Little brother is almost taken out by a truck,
whether or not the Lord had anything to do with almost.
Or with the sun's red rise the next morning. Our father
who art in Chatham releases the dinghy, shakes the sand
out of the lock, and leans into the long drag toward the tide line.


Ellen Doré Watson

pray me stay eager
Alice James Books


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