Streamlined ~ Laurie Klein

I Downtown

Walter prowls the boat store,
humming. He logs specs
in his pocket notebook, those details
ex-skippers crave: What is that
glass-to-resin ratio . . . a pause
to lick the faltering ballpoint, then
he enters bow pulpit depth—pure
cantilever, enticing a sole.
Hobbling down the wharf,
Walter relives the thunderous wash
of rotors, twisting the dangled harness,
the boat left to founder, his body
calipered from wreckage.
Now the wet slide
of a mitt soaping isinglass
stirs old bones into tremulous
flex, as if where salt clings
he’s finessing the chamois, exacting
shine from each contour,
banishing yellowed film, aye,
until water beads on the surface.

II Support Group

Virginia smells faintly of marzipan, a thin
grandma, in ironed denim, with loose rings
and a shingle of hair—like her speech,
rationed. Her Walter opens
his notebook, the one where he
dreams, in ink, about cruise speeds
in knots, keels, and diesel
and monohulls, each yacht now beyond
what the man can handle. We see
her swallow, twice, then allow
her man to make himself sad
in public—loyalty’s fearful ploy
to revive him—a kind of sustenance,
sweet as crushed almonds, her love
an anchor, bumping along the ocean floor.