Storm Running

Storm is the pulse here, quick and sharp as the snap of rigging in the loud whorls of wind, or the sight, as we see through rattling panes, of a sloop riding too low, sloshing sea-rain almost to the gunwales, moored to her buoy with a single line; not ours, but in our keep, blurring into the bay and rain on the rain-slashed glass, she awaits our dutiful dreams of rescue; and halfway out, the shore fading in the sweep of the downpour, troughs for the oars, the sloop now there, now gone, we concentrate on all the littlest things: the oarlocks wrenching round in the tight air -- signs of the edge we have come to, bodies taut in the wild heeling, in the unforseen pounding of sea. Calf-deep in the sloop's flood, bailing and falling, or graphing from the bow to lash a safety-line to the mooring, we cannot know that the storm will abate this night, that this Jubilatem will ride from now on in a bright cold autumn, her owner already planning her winter's respite on land; now we think only of movement, delicate, clumsy, purposeful, divorced from the shore and all our intentions, foolish or not, except for the lifting of one sloo p to its skillful ride.

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