poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Tall Ships

                          15.

Tall ships have uses even seen as films

or memories sailing out in oak- stout hulls

and swallowed as the sea at its far rim

takes in their thinning masts, their fading sails

into its great unhurried toothless maw

the wild sea’s mother-father to our time

the one we think we know as land’s old sod

that holds still while we plunder; sow, reap, mine

we age; it heaves lurches sideways we step

the rolling gait of sailors come to prayer

long ridiculed as prehistoric crap

yet carries us; we breathe its ageless air

we’ve come this far by thought and custom’s trust

our images and allegories taste

of rust and blood, of speculations hunched

in corners babbling used discarded waste

the sea, the sea!  the land is myth and sign

unseen of her rest-motion; cosmic time

 

 

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