I have sailed on many seas,
had my boat lifted on words,
endless waves of them,
weaving and firming up beneath me.
Early on the world was made of seas,
a new one each day:
the feel of dirt,
the visions of a ballgame on the radio,
storms of jelly beans
and winds of candy cotton.
But dark seas, too,
lashing and punching,
and me, lurching through it,
the sea was master,
and the sort of loneliness
that sets your mind free.
I remember harbor towns in my 20s,
some clinging to the stony coast,
others lush, women with garlands and wet skin.
I jumped ship many times to find new water.
From sails to steam, from grand to a burning calm:
the best were the cold northern seas
fearless I was, made buoyant
by a throttled fear,
by pride and a fool’s curiosity.
The sea teaches you to swim,
to be patient, to hunker down,
to absorb waves and weeds and dawn and—
I am lifted every day on water
insensitive to my minor dent
in the boundary between love and
leaving no mark,
save the wisdom of the line I carve