Five A.M.
by Kathryn Wagner

yellow blades slice
glassy river straight and
clean as a silk shirt's crease.

small sharp breaths
gulp morning love, the pain
a kind of grace, a grace
that whittles the mind
to the whisper of the stroke.

oars balanced between stillness
and movement, control and ecstasy
like your coiled body just before
it uncoils into mine.


memory surfaces with the first
cars along the Charles River
and I become: the oars you pull
toward your breasts; the twist

of handles chafing; your glance
behind as you weave among
the varsity fours and eights; the
breastbone of the shell gliding,

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