On the water, 6 AM

It’s often still but never quiet

on our flat water,
as a busy road girdles the mountain nearby.

A different kind of stillness
overpowers the engines
once oars are in hand,
a stillness that drowns out
chatter and nonsense
and every thought except “move this boat.”

Distractions are for those caught
in the monotony of 6 AM taillights.

On the water, every motion requires
unnatural focus,
for every stroke is different
and demands adjustment

of arms, legs, buttocks, shoulders,
the subtle twist of a wrist.

From the shore
every stroke looks identical,
every rower in perfect synch.
On the water,
Inside each woman is a riot
of concentration,
a hundred refinements of muscles
large and small.

The stillness of control
and will
lets us hear, between breaths, the water run bubbling
under our boat.

Ssshhhh. The coxswain is speaking.

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