Poem: Once Again, to the sea


Once Again, to the sea

The boat rests on the line between sea and shore.
No longer tethered to anchor or dock,
it has drifted here in the night’s storms.

And now, now that the rage has left us,
the wooden hull has become flotsam,
a drifting victim of tides and currents.

Part of you hesitates to look closely,
afraid of the wounds you might find on the lapstrake bottom,
afraid, that even if they are not there, there will be wounds

beyond your ability to repair.
For this is your calling. To heal broken things,
despite your own storm-tossed fragility.

You are aware of the irony. It haunts you.
The wounded healer, so broken ever moment threatens
to send you back to the deep, always afraid

the next wave will rise over your bows
and send you to the deep.
And yet, like this small craft tossed on the shore,

you have survived storm after storm,
and even lost and tossed on strange shores,
you have not been conquered. only damaged,

ready for the next repair, your soul a patchwork
somehow still holding water
as you set out, once again, to the sea.

About this poem

When I was about six, my father bought his first sailboat. On the maiden voyage, in the James River, we crossed the wake of a tanker and water poured over the bow, where I was sitting. According to my father, I almost climbed the mast to get away, sure we were sinking. That should have been the end of my sailing career, but as it turned out, despite the trauma of that first jaunt, I came to love sailing. When dad traded his sailboat for motorboats for a while, at age 14, I bought my own sailboat.

I am continually finding out just how wounded I am. It’s not a good thing. It’s become tiresome. But there it is. Life goes one.

And so do I.

From those two things, this poem. Don’t ask me how. The muse is an odd wench.


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