A Christmas sonnet

Square up the river through the blustering cold the barge tow buffets, spray thrown white and high; the heavy engines, thrusting, froth and fold the water; bluffs throw back and amplify the throaty diesel. Far across, a sail leans in the wind. Someone in this late light has stretched the season - see, he luffs, the frail boat straightens, rolls the other way, as sleight of rudder, rope, and canvas let the air itself provide the swiftness of his reach. For heavy commerce let the towboats bear the load, but as we think of Christmas, each bright fact of it relieves from weight, comes free as air, gives strength to sail, asks mastery.

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