Although this poem is not precisely sailing related, I feel compelled to share its beauty.
Probably a decade ago, a friend of mine sent me the poem by Pat Nielsen, who was a dear friend of hers who I recall had just passed away, losing her battle with breast cancer. I came across this friend-of-a-friend gift the other day when I was sorting through a box. It is still as beautiful and touching as it was the first time I read it. The poem shows the love Pat Nielsen had for the Chester River, where she served as a River Guardian. It makes me wish I had known her too.
It’s there in all the photos—
The bright page on which we’ve written our happiest days
Gleaming silver between distant trees,
kids tussling on the grass out front.
Lapis blue for Matt’s first day alone in the skiff,
and the first turtle, and the first fish.
Blue-green for Judd, age three in his captain’s hat,
steering the boat on his father’s lap,
Boys dangling lines from a tilted dock,
soft faces washed in gold, waiting.
Here it is too:
the day my parents climbed in the pick-up,
and into the dinghy, and into the boat, just to see the pink sunset.
In my favorite, faded now,
Ed stands on on a high bank smiling,
his arms spread like William Blake’s radiant man,
colors shooting out of his skin.
I saw that gesture once again years later,
brilliant sky blue day, again on the Chester.
The waterman who passed us saw us wave,
and waived back, and then in one perfect move
opened his arms wide and looked up to the heavens.
Then he glanced back at us and shook his head,
like a man who couldn’t believe his good luck.
The Pat Nielsen Poetry Award was initiated by the Chester River Association (CRA) in 2010 as a tribute to the late Pat Herold Nielsen, a founding member of the CRA. An accomplished poet and an award-winning filmmaker, Pat was a woman of many talents and unceasingly engaged in protecting our environment.