Under Robbins’ brain sky, gray and convoluted we tacked
and glided along the serrated surface of the Willamette,
at times not moving, at times dead silent
to hear the wake as the river parted for the bow.
“We call them pirates,” said the captain in response to
my noticing the big boat moored across the river
that felt more like a pond, wide and still beneath ruffled wavelets
as he sculled our small boat from the course of the Portland Spirit.
The captain taught me many words, some of which
I used until my vocabulary became final
and my being closer to disintegration,
though I have always even without him committed myself in relief.
Revelations untied with the bowline, literally the “bow line”,
where I stood to push another boat aside with my hand.
Under no starlight or spell but my own,
reflecting on the surface, I realized I had learned and forgotten how to tie many knots.