Excerpt from “Luffing,” Second Prize, 2012 Literal Latté Essay Award
My father pushes off the dock and boards the boat; it rocks with every step. My mother sits white-knuckled until he settles and starts the motor. The buzz of the engine soothes us, the forward motion offers balance. My mother relaxes her grip, and we steer through the urban channel toward open water, where we will raise the sails and fly. We ride without words, past buoys and docks with seagulls and tattered flags, weathered men with fishing poles, portable radios, and coolers of beer. We pass rusty mountains of iron ore staged by gigantic freighters docked in the port, and we can see the western edge of the Cleveland skyline. The breeze ushers the putrid smell of fish and sewage and gasoline away, and the sun is shining above. I turn and look at my parents. The sun reflecting off the lake and into their squinted eyes makes it look like they are smiling. And maybe for just a moment, I pretend they really are.
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