“Yellow Sailboat” by Dean Olson

Dean Olson


Channel Obstruction

She is a pretty girl, swinging
gracefully in the gentle tide
and light puffs of winter,
sun catching her bright
yellow and throwing it all
around the harbor.

The shipboard computer tells
her secrets: age, pedigree,
where she lives, the name
of her owner; but not why
he dropped here to swing
with the impulsive wind of winter.

She is close to the channel.
We can leave her alone in an
easterly or southwesterly,
which is most of it this time
of year, but if the wind veers
west, she will be in trouble.

I imagine her owner as
a ne’er-do-well with a scruffy
beard; his unwashed hair and body
sleeping it off on the beach
with another woman. It’s not
the first time he left her alone

like this, showing her age but still
very pretty, drifting at the edge
of a busy channel. You are too good
for him! We will keep near you;
take you to a new home
when the wind veers, as it will.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
Tribute to Law Enforcement Poets


Dean Olson (Harbor Patrol Officer): “I noticed the yellow sailboat on our first patrol. The wind was picking up and if it veered she was anchored near enough to swing into the channel. I ran the boat but came up with no current phone number. Each time we patrolled the area my affection for her grew and I became more peeved with her lubberly owner. I wanted the wind to shift, giving me cause to take her alongside, coddle her. The wind failed me, so I wrote this poem to remember her.”

Rattle Logo