• Tall Ships America


By Susannah

When I got frustrated at my first spat of benthic mud on my white button down, Wilmer just laughed.

“That’s the best part,” he said, motioning to his white tee-shirt splattered with pine tar, sweat, and anchor mud. “I only wear white work shirts because I like to see my effort on my clothes,” he explained.

I have come to adopt his philosophy. Since arriving in Toronto last month, I’ve watched my body change -- my soft, baby skin blister before it calloused, conditioned by friction. My shoulders maintain their milky white tone while my forearms baked and charred in the midday sun. I’m in awe of the bruises littering my body; they fade from Lake Superior blue, veined with purple, to the color of the berth deck. Sailing is etched into my skin.

And when that button down -- once an immaculate white -- turned dusty evergreen from sanding down cleats, dishwater grey, sienna from rust juice, yellow round the collar from a profuse sweat, and deep umber from lake sediment, I just smile. I wear that shirt like armor.

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