(The Head of the Charles Regatta, Cambridge, MA)
October’s weekend-long ballet of boats
outdoes the Charles itself in fluid grace:
each slender vessel flows as much as floats,
an eight-armed river creature born to race.
One year my teenaged nephew pulled an oar,
his muscle part of the machinery
of limbs and blades, advancing a rapport
that fueled liquid choreography.
Although “regatta” conjures privilege
and wealth, his role had more to do with sweat
and sinew: through each mile, beneath each bridge,
he labored. He still works hard, but he set
the oars aside last year to join the Corps;
our own Marine, he pulls his weight and more.
Editor’s Note: If you’ve never seen a regatta, this poem may help you understand the sheer beauty of these boats as they fly along the water. Imagery and affection drive this sonnet much as determination drives an oar into the water again and again.