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.