20 May 2007

the sailor's return

the image can be set in words that burn
with clearest light and do not need a shape
that's odd or twisted the simplest turn

will do to set the limits or cut the tape
you get the vision with the shortest run
of language the ship goes round the cape

into new seas and on the distant beach
a girl laments for lovers who are so far
that neither mind nor voice could ever reach

perhaps a youth who's been summoned to war
or a stern husband who's gone out to sea
she hopes for messages or swears by a star

that she will not be angered will let him be
whatever he desires just so he stays
beside her and does not think to flee

there's hope here for the older settled ways
the certainty of seasons the sure ward
of centuries of practice but in these days

when nothing can be certain is is too hard
to hope for vision that rewards the heart
no man or woman halts within their yard

distance and time will serve to keep apart
and no warm signals will come to this land
although within the messenger's fine art

instead one seeks the best that comes to hand
she is not sure but she knows that her wail
will break the hearts of those who understand

she is not waiting in the hope that a sail
will break horizon and that her lovely boy
or man is watching from the ship's fore-rail

(the kind of love that ages cannot cloy)
her soul is part of a great human choir
that best expresses desire and great joy

at knowing that there stilll remains a fire

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