Crew Coach: Tuttle Creek, Kansas

I am stiff behind the dam. The breeze-burred
steel-dark water bends east to a horizon
barely rusty. And before the sun comes mist
and the eights blur away and I pursue
the wakes’ thin lines and shout, “Keep in time . . .
timing is important.”
I like the hard-edged time before the mist
arrives: the dark bodies swing together.
eight white-diamonded blades flick down into spray
and rise together swinging. The heads, hands.
elbows, knees, fingers, chins, and minds describe
like vortices or parallel lines. Thirty
strokes per minute. Heartheats break one thirty.
Sunrise at seven-twelve. Thirty-five degrees.
Five-hundred-meter sprints while I can see
the markers. Times taken to the tenth.
On a foggy dock young men laugh in separate postures
and stomp around with laces dragging on the gray glazed planks.
They joke about the Tuttle Triangle and a couple
belch deep as warning horns. Then they shoulder the shell
and stumble up the gravel path while I snap the cover
on the launch, each snap on its numb button.