Let Go of It

 

When the wind came up that day

I was holding the jib, I was holding it tight

like Harriet said to and it was something

to be flying over the bright water,

the wind with us, the shore becoming small,

then green, then a dark line.

 

It was my first time and I was glad

that it was easy, my job steady,

the boat light as a toy, the water

slipping by with a slipping sound.

 

And then the wind changed, turning

like a face in anger, darkly,

and hurled itself at the side of us.

Harriet said, “Let go of it,” but I couldn’t,

I kept pulling the jib tighter while the mainsail

she let go of clapped over my head

and the rope tying everything to everything

dug deep into my hands. Disaster is

to me now this perfect symbol,

that boat keeling, Harriet leaning backward

over starboard, arching her neck as far as it will go

into the wind, the volume of the wind,

the Atlantic spilling in, again

her cry, “Let go of it!” and myself

when I couldn’t, when it was more than

terror, I already believed I was stronger,

bigger than the wind and could not see

how not holding on would save us,

how letting go is holding on.

 

by Cindy Day Roberts

in Last Call: Poems on Alcoholism, Addiction, & Deliverance, Sarah Gorham & Jeffrey Skinner, eds.

 

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