As we ease into the snowy season, here is a beautiful poem about a beautiful skiing word: “Camber,” by Linda Aldrich. I love how clearly and tangibly this poem defines the word and what it means for a skier on a slope. I also love the larger metaphor the poem offers for anyone about to launch into the new.

Aldrich served as Portland’s sixth poet laureate and has published three collections of poetry, “Foothold,” “March and Mad Women” and “Ballast.” A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA program, she co-hosts with Marcia F. Brown the monthly reading series “Local Buzz” in Cape Elizabeth.

 

Camber

By Linda Aldrich

            in memory of my father

 

Camber is the way skis bend up under your feet,

but not too much, just enough. Two slightly convex

 

bridges for you to stand on, to feel the spring

between you and the earth: somewhat like dancing—

 

a bit of lift in your step. You will stand taller, be more

stable. Not tall in the stiff way of locked knees

 

and fearful thoughts because everything needs some

give, everyone needs to be loose-limbed and relaxed

 

to move forward. It’s easier that way, more joy in it:

you’ll be able to change direction with grace, your turns

 

will be good turns. The real secret is you don’t need

the poles because your balanced body is the center pole,

 

and the tent you hold up is the beautiful world you see

from the top of the mountain. So breathe in the clean,

 

cold air, and get going—let your eyes look out

beyond your skis, and trust your legs to carry you.

 

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. “Camber,” copyright © 2018 by Linda Aldrich, appears by permission of the author.


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