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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rowboat

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Rowboat


There is a life that was not meant for me,
of sailboats, and Nantucket shingles

of white shorts, white sails, white teeth, white gulls, the wind of the Cape,
the salt in the crab, the spit of the white bow piercing teal water,
of teak and polish and legs of sempiternal tan

I am not of pencil-thin
masts and marinas
clubbed, decked and chromed,
morning wedge of glint and beacon

But oh I am white
and privileged, without a doubt
peachy, the white of Lake Michigan sand,
of shells on that sand, striated with necklaces
of fine-grained earthery,
of peeling sun-blazed birch bark tree
organza diaphany,
skirt of light,
easy

I am of one rowboat
on one small lake, but infinite,
the rowboat of the patchwork paint,
of one broken oarlock,
of oars painted dove gray, one corner
of one oar missing,
with its splitting feathers
raised in the air

Water streaming down the oar-wing
onto my hand, paused
in one moment of many moments
and even more
and yes more
of airy moments
of leisure
of one coasting kind
or another


~ Ruth M.

Here me read the poem here.




Happy Birthday, Dee Dee.


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43 comments:

Dee Dee said...

Ruthie!!!! Is this really for me?!?! Thank you, words caught in my heart. I will keep this post close to my heart forever...just as I am keeping you, my heart. Thank you, I love you.

Ruth said...

Yes, heart of my heart, I'm dedicating it to you on the occasion of your [ahem-teenth] birthday Monday. In memory of all our blessed moments together, summed up in this precious boat.

George said...

A wonderful poem, Ruth, and one that I relate to. I live in one of those communities described in the first nine lines, but I know it was not meant for me, and we shall probably be moving on in the next year or so to someplace that is a better fit.

You have a lovely gift, Ruth, and thanks for sharing it with us — and, by the way, I love those lake photos.

Ruth said...

George, I thank you.

For much of my young life, I thought that that life was meant for me, and that there had been some mistake. It's freeing to understand where I belong, and what fills me up. I trust that you, a person who is centered in yourself, and so beautifully connected to the world, will find a haven of rest that feels just right.

willow said...

Gorgeous. I don't know which I like better, the photos or your words, Ruth. "I am of one rowboat" reached out and grabbed me this morning.

Bonnie said...

Calm, centered words that come from a rich, reflective life. While your first photo stirs me with its beauty, the last grips me with its symbolism. A stunning post Ruth.

João said...

everything looks still...still as in a photograph...still as we want good moments to remain

Pat said...

The photos are stunning, the poem - wonderful!

Lorenzo said...

The photos and poem alike have many subtle layers, the still water, the quiet perfect reflections. Wonderful work and and play, Ruth.

Loring Wirbel said...

Wow, Ruth, dazzling poem.

Oliag said...

These photos perfectly illustrate your poem Ruth...I love this descriptive poem...descriptive of you...descriptive of that wonderfully aged rowboat.

I feel as though I have a foot in both of these worlds...I am of the wind and the quiet and the excitment of the sail...but I am more of one rowboat as well...a lover of coasting and aged oars...Split in two...

Susan said...

Your muse must be sitting on your shoulder constantly now. You just keep getting better and better. Beautiful poem and beautiful photos, which I believe you took last year on your birthday weekend. :)

PurestGreen said...

I love this! It brought back memories of my grandfather's boat, with the creaky oars. I rowed out to the middle of the lake and just sat. Thank you for setting the scene of memory for me.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Willow. I like that what is essential in me resonates with you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Bonnie. You never fail to make me pause and reflect more. I had not seen the second photo that way, and since I read your comment, it has been swishing around happily in me, like a bright fish illuminating something inside. Leaving the shoes behind . . .

Ruth said...

João, thank you. I need stillness quite a bit, always have. The dock in early morning is a wondrous place to sit alone with a cup of coffee.

Ruth said...

Pat, I'm glad the pictures and the words that describe one of my special soul places gave you pleasure today. Thank you so much for your kind comment.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, it's interesting that you say that, because as they say, still waters run deep. This little Horseshoe Lake goes 40 feet deep at its deepest. It's a spring fed lake, and very still, except when the jet skis and speed boats fly to and fro. You can imagine that I don't like that much. On those days, I stay up the hill in the cottage. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Loring. I'm dazzled by "dazzling".

Ruth said...

Oliag my friend, I thought of you many times in the few hours I wrote this poem, feeling all the time just what you wrote here, that you are like me, and you also sail and feel at home in the coastal playground. I think there are a lot of New England coasters who would be found in some of these lines, straddling the upper and the lower. I am oh so drawn to your pictures of the sailing life.

Ruth said...

Susie Quteness, you got that right, this was my birthday weekend. I am quite impressed with you recognizing it, yet the light was unforgettable. What a happy memory that weekend is, and a certain long boat ride too. :)

Ruth said...

PurestGreen, that's the best. Rowing in the quiet, the rhythm of the creaks creating a trance. Then stopping in a spot that says STOP. And floating. I think I need to go back and do this in a couple of weeks.

Cait O'Connor said...

Divine photos and divine poem, thank you for sharing.

freefalling said...

Makes me feel good.
My soul took itself away and hopped into that little boat for a paddle.

Ruth said...

Cait, that is very kind of you, thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Letty, do you know how much I love that you like poetry now?

ds said...

There is a life that was not meant for me (much less legs of "sempiturnal tan" tee hee)...yes...for I am of one rowboat, chipped paint of light blue in a very small pond.
Oh how this poem sighs and soothes and longs and lets go. Breathtaking words and breathtaking photos (I love how the boat came back in the 2nd, but whoever left her shoes on the dock has soared away). Thank you so much for sharing these.

westcobich said...

Now that, Ruth Mowry, is a poem!
And a picture that's a poem.
egads, girl, wonderful stuff!

And oddly it made me think of F Scott Fitzgerald. (worthy perhaps of explanation tho' you might know what I mean.)

Bravo!
(why is that picture so particularly sharp? natural? or edited? little matter. Love the crisp-icity!

Ruth said...

DS, you and I meet, in our rowboats, stopped in the pond, or lake. We meet each other. We meet the ones who've put something into the air, be they writers, or artists, or beasts, or inanimates of other matter, and we find great comfort. We are so privileged, so privileged, in our rowboats. When you and I meet, every time, I am touched in that water-place, right here.

Ruth said...

Oh, dear Oh, what a pleasant fragrance you leave. Your comment itself reminds me of F Scott. :) You will be surprised, I think, to learn that I may be the only high schooler in the U.S. not to read The Great Gatsby. But several years ago I read Tender is the Night and loved it. So yes, I do know what you mean, I think, for there seemed to be sempiternally tanned legs aplenty in that novel of parties.

As for that photo's crispness, it is 100% a result of the morning air and light, the gift that a person with a camera gets up early for. I rarely crisp up an image, because I am hardly ever pleased with the result. All I did to post process these images was to contrast them up +1 or +2.

Deborah said...

Oh my, Ruth. A while back you very kindly spoke of one of my pieces in terms of craft. Now it's my turn. If you went through the same hard-won and laboured process for this lighter-than-air, elegant, eloquent poem, there isn't the least sign of it. Beautiful - both words and photograph.

dutchbaby said...

My dear Ruth,
This post came at such an opportune time for me. I read this at Peet's Coffee while my son was at his first rowing practice of the season.

The luminescence of the photos, the poem, your spirit shines through the screen to my heart.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth you bring beauty to the world ... such an eye and mind live in you...

California Girl said...

I like the way you juxtaposed the Nantucket set with the Lake Michigan set, particularly the colors and architectural details.

Gorgeous photo, btw.

Ruth said...

Deborah, thank you for those three descriptions, which make me feel so grateful and gratified. This poem took a few hours, and it was not labored, but it was tweaked a bit. I am still considering cutting some of it . . . . from But oh I am white to . . . of one rowboat. It may be that the material in that stanza could be in another poem. Knowing when a poem is done is such a challenge!

You are a beautiful writer, and I trust you are making progress in your novel. Maybe now that your summer travels are done, you can set up your writing space again and feel the words expand.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, well I like that, I love that! It's remarkable how connected we are, over the miles, without meeting face to face. My heart sings.

Ruth said...

Gwen, what can I say? I'm all over the place, I know that. The thing is, you have an eye and a mind and the talent to create beauty by the truckload. I'm humbled. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, California Girl. I'm still tweaking this poem, it may need some tightening. But I'm grateful that you feel the juxtaposition between the two worlds works.

Shari Sunday said...

Oh, that rowboat. Oh, that lovely poem. One of your comments reminded me of gently riding down the Hillsborough River in a somewhat bigger boat with a trolling motor. That little wave we would give to other riders in other boats in silent recognition of the beauty and peace we were sharing.

Terresa said...

A gorgeous poem, I am in awe, awe, awe. Beauty.

Ginnie said...

That rowboat...OUR rowboat...has never been as aptly praised as this, Ruthie. And Dee Dee SHOULD be proud. How fun.

Claudia said...

Wow, I'm lost for words... This is a treasure of a post.

deb said...

I've waited to catch up here , Ruth, knowing your posts deserve reflection , and a large mug of coffee , and no distractions.
I loved listening to your voice... thank you for that.
I have nothing to add to your photos or words, except my gushing . Truly magnificent. We are heading to Michigan this Friday ( my daughter's soccer team , UMASS is playing UM ) and I will feel like I am visiting the state of Ruth.