We’re in the time of year when colors find new brilliance against the sky and sea, and this week’s poem, Marcia F. Brown’s “Spinnakers,” brings us into a beautiful scene of that clarity. I love this poem’s immersive imagery, the thrilling action of the “nautical ballet” of the sailboats, and the final turn inward – to the joy spurred within by all this late-season color, movement and light.

Brown, of Cape Elizabeth, served as poet laureate for the city of Portland from 2013-2015. She is the author of five books of poetry, including “In the Afternoon” (Moon Pie Press, 2019), the essay collection “Well Read, Well Fed ~ A Year of Great Reads” and “Simple Dishes for Book Groups” (Sellers Publishing, 2015).



By Marcia F. Brown


Occasioned by a flawless sky, bright

sea awash in sun – day

tacked on to the end of summer –

you announce an unplanned holiday.


We head out in the runabout, cut

across the Bay, tie up on a homely dock

where gulls scream to share sandwiches

against the blue afternoon, the high

shape-shifting clouds.


A fleet of sails – white

like huge shark fins, makes straight

for us, racing in a late season regatta.

The three lead boats bear down

so close, we’re drawn into their crewmen’s

nautical ballet of leaning, hauling, dodging, crawling.

They come about and round the marker.


One split second and the spinnakers

unfurl their sunlit silken colors – no longer

sailing race, but grand imperial parade.

It is as if we had just witnessed

the very invention of color.


I clink my glass to yours

and somewhere deep within,

my heart lets loose

a parachute of red.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Spinnakers” copyright © 2019 by Marcia F. Brown, reprinted from “In the Afternoon” (Moon Pie Press). It appears by permission of the author.

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