Magic Act

27 March 2022

By Philip Kuepper

A rowboat is laughter embodied on the water.
It is happiness made manifest.
It acts as a solid atop liquid.
It takes one out to the spot where the fish bite.
It sweeps one beneath the overhanging trees,
where one can lay back
and open the book of the sky,
the leaves of the trees, like words appliqued on the sky,
a testament to eternity.

A rowboat is a vessel
that carries us away
from the shore of the everyday,
to where we dream of being
in no particular place at all,
a vessel that is constant
on an ever-changing surface,
a magic mirror where we can become
a part of the reflection,
and not merely the reflected.

(1 January 2022)


  1. Thanks for the poem and image.

    Is the boat a GRP Whitehall Spirit out of Victoria BC? 4 oars suggests that this is a 17 ft boat.

    I have been following Whitehalls for several years, mainly from Gardner’s book Building Classic Small Craft. I have a GRP carvel mould, the Matilda Bay 14, which I believe is Whitehall derived, due to its resemblance to one of Gardner’s published designs. Currently only one boat (Matilda Bay) from this mould exists. I sailed in her, many years ago, as a new boat.

    Matilda Bay appears under sail on my website

    Peter Edmonds
    Perth, Western Australia

  2. Thanks for the beautiful poem by a fellow Iowan. As the owner of a Gig Harbor Melonseed, a repro of a Jersey work skiff, I enjoy my moments of rowing on Shoal Bay in the Salish Sea off Lopez Island, drifting along the shoreline. Always a rewarding rowing experience.

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