Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sea and Sinbad's Ship

Far from home,
sailing a sea neither friendly
nor hostile to us. Plying our trade
in the much-maligned towns of that coast.
Their women were known as small-breasted
and cheerless. Then why were we so happy?

At sea by day, the sun held us under
its burning-glass. Distant islands
fumed in watery glaze. Hot breezes
pressed us slowly up along the coast.
Our ecstasy: taut line between sky & sea.

Nights in port were a drunken splendor.
Deserted by the bitchy women, we drank
and sang and puked the night away.
The lives of sea-going men, we sang.

Nights at sea: sea singing sweetly
under our keel, stars slipping by overhead,
spray on our faces, the night sea-wind.
Ship on the sea, sea under ship,
cupped in the hands of earth and starry night.
Our brooding silence was a wail of joy.

Halvard Johnson: from Winter Journey, 1979