Maggie Butt

Model Boating Pond

Time flips like a newly landed fish
as you marry the freshly varnished hull
to the buoyancy of water, and are back
when the boat was huge in your hands
and your heart as huge with love for it.

Flip, and you are a prisoner, an alien
in the land where you grew up
and the boat made by your own labour
smelling of balsa and glue,
sails sewn on endless evenings.

Flip as the wind finds sail and the race
begins, with yelling and forgetfulness,
a breezy Sunday afternoon
in boaters and blazers, as if the century
was still new-born and innocent.

Flip and the laughter and the cries
are all of men, no boys – except the boys
inside the men – no running feet,
no women watching as they always do,
just a sentry marking time.

Flip as boats launch from all points
of the compass, taken by the wind,
its helpless prisoners. Only Kurt Engler’s
steam-powered tin ship ploughs
its relentless circular course.