Pete Vanderberg knows the sea and he knows his way around the page too. He writes about family, the Long Island beaches, and sailing, but there’s a flavor that comes from his experience serving in the US Navy that makes this book so unique.
Peter Vanderberg and I went to grad school together (disclaimer) and I have always loved these poems. It is wonderful to see them come alive in print. Weather-Eye is a physically beautiful book. It is a collaboration of paintings by his artist brother, James Vanderberg, and poems by Peter.
I am grateful that he is allowing me to share two favorites with you. Take this book with you to the beach this summer. It will change the way you see the tides.
Father with three sons in a sailboat,
minds’ eyes in four directions
until drawn in to a rope turned line
by his word & the bay beneath us.
Difference between a knot & tangle
is the knot will hold & easily untie. Tangles
can’t be trusted or undone. He began
to work the line. You should know
the bowline. I watched, waiting
my turn, his son turned father turned son.
One gesture loops while threading
the free-end, like a card trick.
We all test the knot, eager to learn something
useful, something that proves itself, that lasts.
Curve of coast; loop in a line.
The language of water always has two meanings:
One soft: my daughter holding the main sheet;
my son pushing the tiller back & forth. The sailboat
on light wind tolerates their energies.
One hard: way to handle wind, meaning way to handle God.
New on my first ship I was told never to trust a bight –
will cut a grown man in half, meaning, imagine what it’d do to you.
Sailing past the Boat Graveyard with my father on the tiller
I have leisure to look at the half-sunk hulls grown
through with reeds, the osprey display his crab atop a channel marker.
There are always two meanings: life & death –
god that we name twice because we have two
identities & neither understands the other.
Peter Vanderberg served in the US Navy from 1999 — 2003 and received his MFA from Queens College, CUNY. His work has appeared in CURA, Ozone Park, Newtown Literary and in collaboration with his brother James’ paintings in their book, Weather-Eye. He teaches at St. John’s Preparatory and Hofstra University.